Dr. Amir Khalil

An interview with Dr. Amir Khalil

Project director, team leader and expert vet speaks on his work at FOUR PAWS


Every day at FOUR PAWS, our teams on the ground face new challenges and obstacles in their fight to free animals from suffering. Today, we would like to introduce you to Dr. Amir Khalil, our Director of Reveal and Rescue Response, who has been working on the front lines of FOUR PAWS rescue missions for the past 27 years. Amir is an experienced veterinarian and dedicated animal warrior who has devoted his life to ending the suffering of animals in captivity.  

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When did you start working for FOUR PAWS?

I started working at FOUR PAWS in 1994 as a volunteer helping stray animals. In 1997 I officially joined the organisation as an employee.

Is working for FOUR PAWS different from working at a veterinarian clinic? If so, how? 

There is a great difference between working for FOUR PAWS and working at a vet clinic. At FOUR PAWS I am part of a team, and I am able to help many animals of different species, especially wild animals who have been kept in captivity or in conflict zones. The animals we are saving usually have no voices left, after their cries for help have gone unheard for so long. Their enclosures do not meet the species required standard and their owners are not able to protect and take care of them. At FOUR PAWS I have the opportunity to make a global impact and raise awareness about animal suffering and captivity.  

What are your responsibilities? What do you do in your job?  

At FOUR PAWS I am responsible for rescuing animals from conflict and war zones and finding long-term, sustainable solutions for animal problems. I am also responsible for coordinating rescue missions and relocating animals to new places where they can live happily in species-appropriate conditions.

Most of the time, I am leading rescue missions, but I often need to step into the shoes of a politician, lobbyist, or logistics specialist. I am also a veterinarian, and often step in to assist with medical emergencies.  

What does a typical day at work look like?Do you have a typical day at work?

Naturally, my work requires constant travelling, so even when I’m not working directly on a rescue mission, I will be travelling between continents. I work every day, and often continue working long after the sun goes down. Typically, I am busy planning our missions, meeting with partners, lobbying, keeping the team motivated, ensuring safety and security of the team and our operations, and understanding the geographical and political aspects of the places I’m travelling to with my team.

What is the best part of your job? 

My favourite part is being able to free animals from suffering and give them a new chance at life.

What is the worst? 

The most frustrating is seeing a suffering animal that is being kept in inappropriate conditions and being unable to help immediately. Often our rescue missions require an initial visit to see the animal, followed by time spent planning for their rescue.

How do you build trust and connection with the animals you are helping or rescuing? 

Besides singing and talking to the animals, I try to strike a deal with them: I won’t give up on rescuing them, but in return they need to cooperate with me.  

How do you stay positive after seeing so much animal suffering?  

I build a wall between myself and emotions and focus all my attention on getting the animal to safety.  

What is it about animals that inspires you every day to continue your work?

Watching an animal experience their first moments of freedom after years of suffering in captivity. Seeing their paws touch grass for the first time in their lives and their eyes watch the sky above, without any roof or cage in between. Freedom is a beautiful feeling. 

If you could give one piece of advice to a younger you, what would it be?  

Be crazy, dream big, and never give up. Everything is possible.  

Are there any important lessons you have learnt from your experiences that you use in normal day to day life?  

Every day I learn something new, but the most important lesson I have learnt is to be respectful, love deeply, inspire others, and to be honest and kind. 

Note: Any advertisements that may appear during the viewing of this video are unrelated to FOUR PAWS. We assume no liability for this content.

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