For years, the 50-year-old Palestinian has been helping stray dogs in Gaza by collecting them at his shelter as well as at home. Said al-Err also rescues dozens of cats and horses in distress.
Said al-Err, 50, father of 8 children, but sees them less and less. This Gazan resident spends most of his days rescuing stray dogs and those he cares for at his shelter.
His shelter, Sulala Animal Rescue, is Gaza’s first and so far the only one. More than 350 dogs live here, but elsewhere, in a house he rents, Saeed al-Err takes care of 40 cats. At home, he welcomes about thirty more people. Hundreds of animals, including donkeys and horses, have been rescued by this man, his family and his team of staff and volunteers.
Although he loves them all without exception, he has a special bond with Minver, the cat who is always the first to greet him when he returns home after long and tiring days. “If I crawl under the covers to keep warm, he will pat my arm to pick him up to join me,” Saeed al-Err said. I dream that one day all animals will find a safe place like Minver.»
He explains that he has always helped animals, but decided to step up when the municipality announced on social media that it would pay almost 3 euros for every stray dog killed. Shocked, he reacted to these publications, and the next morning went to the mayor’s office to show him that his approach was wrong. The authorities heard him and eventually ended their campaign by removing the posts in question.
Said al-Err then took out a bank loan and rented a property to keep dogs and cats. He invested his own money and received some donations. However, a year later, he ran out of resources and considered closing his little hideout. He even had to sell his car in order to continue to feed and care for the animals. It was here that the mayor’s office approached him with a request to open a municipal shelter.
Said al-Err is happy to be able to continue his work even if he is overwhelmed. “Every day I get about 10 phone calls about animals in need of rescue. I wish I had half an hour just for myself,” he admits.
He can count on the invaluable help and support of his wife, Sally, who «takes care of everything». She also takes care of all the sick cats I have at home,” he continues. She gives them medicine and feeds them. Without her, I would not have been able to do anything.”
The person concerned indicates that the most difficult thing for him is time management, especially when she has serious things to do. Sally gives the example of «a cat with a broken jaw». I have to crush the food and carefully give it to him. But I don’t mind. It’s a good thing»
The worst thing for Saeed al-Err is «when you see an animal die». Usually people learn about the successes and the animals we save, but this is not always the case. It is useful for animals to have someone close in the last moments of life in order to die peacefully, and not in loneliness and fear.”