For months, Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel has been traveling to Kafr Nabl, a Syrian town recently hit by airstrikes, with one goal in mind: to save abandoned cats.
Before the bombardment began, many residents were able to flee to safety. Unfortunately, some domestic animals have been left stranded.
“It’s not easy to bring a pet with you when you need to move quickly and take all your things with you,” Cat friend and lover Alessandra Abidin told The Dodo.
Knowing how angry people had to leave their pets, Aljaleel, sometimes referred to as the “Aleppo Catman,” decided to head to town to help.
Aljaleel and his team have prepared food for the cats. | Ernesto’s Sanctuary
Abidin explained that in this latest rescue at Kafr Nabl, the former pets joined with wild cats to roam the streets, forming a large colony.
“Some of them approached the team,” Abidin said. “They probably knew we had brought food. They were easy to catch. We set up trap cages for others with food inside to attract them. It is not a quick job. We have to wait nearby to drop the cage doors. “
So far, the team has rescued around 83 cats and kittens, which have been relocated to Ernesto’s Sanctuary.
“They can have three meals a day, access to fresh water and personal care at Ernesto’s Sanctuary,” Abidin said. “They should settle in pretty quickly.”
Aljaleel and the vet ready to lead the rescued cats to the sanctuary | Ernesto’s Sanctuary
The team will return to Kafr Nabl every day to save more cats, despite the danger, Abidin said.
This is not the first time that Aljaleel’s has put his life on the line for animals. In 2016, Aljaleel, who also works as an ambulance driver, became famous for staying in the Syrian war zone to feed and rescue abandoned cats. The following year, Aljaleel opened an official cat sanctuary so that these displaced cats would once again have a home. He called the sanctuary the house of cats Ernesto, which he named after his own cat Ernesto.
This has not been easy. In November 2017, the Ernesto Cat House was destroyed in the conflict. Aljaleel and Ernesto had to flee to Turkey, but they quickly returned to Syria to reopen the shrine in a new location in Aleppo.
Since then, Aljaleel and a team of animal lovers have worked tirelessly to help as many cats as possible – as well as dogs, horses, rabbits and other animals.
“This is what we are doing,” Abidin said. “If there’s a chance we can save an animal’s life, we’ll be there.”
Aljaleel and Ernesto also take care of feeding the stray dogs in the city.
To help save more cats and kittens in war-ravaged Syria, you can donate to the Ernesto Sanctuary.