Pets abandoned during Hezbollah-Israel war to be flown to United States for adoption

Some 300 homeless dogs and cats, many left behind by owners who fled Lebanon during the Hezbollah-Israel war, will be heading to new sanctuaries in the United States for adoption, an animal rights activist said Friday.

About 150 dogs and a similar number of cats will be flown out on a special flight Monday, said Mona Khoury, co-founder of the humane society Beirut for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or BETA.

"They will be in transit sanctuary," she said in a telephone interview, referring to the many requests for adoptions.

BETA is involved in the project with the American animal society Best Friends. A statement from Best Friends issued in Kanab, Utah, said the homeless pets from Beirut will be airlifted to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, America's largest refuge for abused and abandoned pets.

Michael Mountain, president of Best Friends, said that the pets will be undergo a complete health and behavior evaluations, "and then they'll be off to their new homes."

"We've already had lots of adoption offers," Mountain said, adding that "by bringing these homeless pets to this country, we're enabling the good people at BETA to rebuild their shelters and restart their rescue work."

BETA has collected many pets that were left behind by people who had to leave the country. Tens of thousands of foreigners or Lebanese with foreign passports left the country in July and August during the heavy fighting, many on the recommendations of their governments which organized evacuations by land or sea, reports AP.

Pets were not accepted in the evacuations and many had to be left behind.

At the start of the 34-day hostilities July 12, BETA had to move dogs and cats from a shelter near a Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut that was repeatedly pounded by Israeli warplanes to a hilltop farm in Monteverde in the hills overlooking Beirut.