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British couple helping animals in Beirut

TWO VOLUNTEERS have spent a fortnight in war-torn Beirut rescuing pets abandoned by fleeing families.

Mark Organ, 42, of Lancing, West Sussex and Sara Munson, 33, from Hastings, East Sussex returned from Lebanon recently after two weeks working with homeless and feral dogs and cats at a derelict pig farm in the mountains above Beirut.

The sanctuary, run by charity Beirut for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, had to evacuate its animals from the city after hostilities broke out between Israel and Lebanon in July.

Mr Organ said he saw the group appealing for help on the Internet and, together with Ms Munson, started raising funds among friends and family to get them to the region.

They were helped by a donation of £500 from Uckfield-based charity International Animal Rescue.
The pair have spent time working with animals in Palestine on previous trips.

Mr Organ, who works for rail company Southern at Falmer Station, described the effect of the summer's conflict on Beirut.

He said: ‘Where we were was the wealthy part of the city, which didn't get touched at all. The Gucci shop was still standing.

‘It was the poorer areas that were bombed. They bombed the infrastructure, the road bridges and things like that.’

While in Beirut the pair stayed in an apartment being used as a sanctuary for 80 cats.

Mr Organ said: ‘We were working between eight and ten hours a day. We'd get up, clean the cats in our apartment, do their food and do their medication.’

They would then go to the pig farm, where they would feed, walk and clean up after the 110 dogs being cared for there.

The pair arrived in the country shortly after a high-profile airlift of 400 dogs and cats from Lebanon to Utah in the USA.

Back in England, they both keep a more modest array of animals at their homes. Mr Organ has five house rabbits and Ms Munson has two dogs and four cats.

For more information about Beirut for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or to make a donation, visit animals.beirut.com