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Searching for the lost dogs of the Beirut blast

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Leila Molana-Allen

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Bunduq and Fred (foreground)

It wasn’t only humans who were hurt and terrified by the massive blast when a Beirut warehouse containing a highly explosive fertiliser went up in smoke, many animals ran for their lives. A concerted effort took place to reunite owners with their missing pets – but some, like Leila Molana-Allen, had to endure a long and heart-wrenching wait.A white hot flash, and I was hurled into the corner of the room. My peripheral vision was a sea of flying glass and splintering wood. As I came to, ears ringing, and clambered over the debris of what had seconds before been my bedroom, my first thought was of my family. Not my birth family, safe across the Mediterranean, but my chosen Beirut family, with whom I had built a life within these whitewashed walls. A blur of black and gold streaking through the gaping hole of our exploded front door told me the furry members of our pack had made it out alive. I grabbed my flatmate Lizzie and we did our best to avoid the jagged piles of glass that formed a treacherous pathway out of the wreckage. The next few hours are a blur of blood, phone calls, first aid and anxiety. The double explosion had reminded many of us of a missile strike, still such a vivid memory from the 2006 war. We feared a second hit, and tried to gather dazed and terrified neighbours under the most solid protective structure, a staircase. Suddenly, there was Fred, the elder of our two dogs, who had found his way back home. For the next few days he sat loyal and silent by my side, defending the ruins of our home after a kind upstairs neighbour took us in. But the puppy – named Bunduq (hazelnut in Arabic), for his habit of curling into a
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