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Just for hugs and licks

Filipino pet lover urges people to come forward and adopt abandoned pets looking for a loving home

For Harold Esparcia, a Filipino expatriate living in Mawaleh, life is all about giving love and care to abandoned pets in Oman. He goes an extra mile to rescue a suffering pet or finding a foster home for it, even if it means sacrificing much of his time for it.

Harold has been in Muscat for the past 13 years and manages a catering section for an international firm in Oman. Though he himself leads a simple existence – sharing his small apartment with his sister and two pets – he puts away a small amount from his monthly earnings for the welfare of abandoned pets.

It pains me to see people abandoning beautiful pets – cats and dogs – when they leave Oman. Some of them leave their pets at the airport, others elsewhere, without thinking how they will survive,” says Harold, pointing out that most pets are indoor breeds and cannot survive on their own in the harsh climate of Oman, if abandoned.

Both of Harold’s pets are rescue dogs. One is a hybrid Shih Tzu named Max and the other is a Princess Shih Tzu named Sheela. Both are a breed that cannot survive the harsh climate and need care.

Harold bought Max from his careless owner for RO100 after seeing the dog being ill-treated, not fed or given water on time, being tied outdoors, and teased and beaten by children in the area. Harold made several pleas to Max’s previous owner to give him the dog’s custody if he could not care for him, and finally succeeded in saving the pooch by buying him. “Pets are a joy to have around your house. They bring so much happiness. I consider them to be a real blessing.

In fact, I no longer feel the need to step out for leisure after work. I get to spend quality time with my pets after a tiring day at work,” says Harold. “We need to treat pets just like children. They need love and affection all the time and they return it without reservations.”

Harold has associated himself with a voluntary organisation in Muscat, which works for the welfare and rescue of abandoned pets in Oman. He often rescues abandoned or injured pets, provides them medical attention and tries to find them a loving, forever home. Over the past few years, he has also inspired many young people to join the endeavour.

For those who abandon their pets when they leave Muscat, Harold has a simple question: “Would you leave behind your children when you leave Oman? So, why do you leave your pets?”

To others, he says, “You need not be rich to keep pets. You only need to be generous. If one puts aside a small amount of money every month, every family can surely provide a home for an abandoned pet. And the joy you get in return is invaluable!”