June 17th, a horrific image began circulating on Facebook: a slew of dead dogs, 24 in all, massacred on the grounds of a US security company in Kuwait.
Former employees of this company, Eastern Securities, as well as US dog vendors and the Kuwaiti government whistleblower who posted the photo, exclusively tell the Post of longstanding abuse of dogs in ES’s care — as well as the recruitment of impoverished workers from third-world nations who are then held against their will, without passports, work visas or cell phones.
“They are a terrible, terrible company,” says Roger Abshire of USK9 Unlimited, which cut ties with Eastern Securities in 2008.
“I inspected and had people on top of this, and [Eastern Securities CEO Bill] Baisey didn’t like it,” Abshire says. “Handlers weren’t getting paid on time. They weren’t getting dog food on time.”
The dogs are CWDs — civilian working dogs, trained to detect explosives at oil refineries.
“Those dogs were mistreated,” says Amy Swope, an American who worked for Eastern Securities in Kuwait from July to November of 2014. “A lot of them were underfed, had eye and skin infections, lesions, bacterial infections, diarrhea, and cancerous growths. One dog had uterine cancer so bad I begged them to euthanize her.”
Swope says the company refused, and made the cancer-stricken dog work until she died. At the time, Eastern Securities was being paid $3,000 per dog, per month, by the Kuwaiti government. Other sources say that figure is much higher — up to $10,000 per dog, per month.
The company, Swope says, could never keep veterinarians on staff for very long, because they rarely paid anyone.“I had two emergency cases that I took to a local vet,” Swope says. “They said, ‘We won’t treat these dogs; your company doesn’t pay.’ I ended up using petty cash.”
Swope says she confronted CEO Baisey — a man also known as Fathalla Balbeisi — once she learned that many of the low-level workers from India, Nepal, the Philippines and Uganda had their passports taken away and were stuck in Kuwait. Swope says she herself was never issued a work visa, which left her vulnerable in Kuwait.
“Some of these workers don’t have embassies,” Swope says. When she spoke with Baisey, she says he threatened her with prison.
“He said, ‘We have photos of men coming in and out of your apartment. That’s illegal in Kuwait. You’ll be thrown in jail. Leave it alone.’”
Swope booked the first flight out of Kuwait to Saudi Arabia — a mark of how desperate she was to get out of there, she says. When she first saw the photo of the dead dogs, she was sure the company intentionally murdered them as a cost-cutting measure.
“They lost their contract on May 31 — the ministry’s not paying them anymore, and the dogs are costing them money,” Swope says. “This has been going on a while.”
On Friday, the Post spoke exclusively with Baisey. He denied all charges and all knowledge of any wrongdoing.
“I do not run this operation. You’re talking to the CEO of the group,” he told the Post. “I had nothing to do with this. I’m not involved in any way, shape or form. I’m getting s—t from everybody.”
In the week since the photo of the dead dogs went viral, Eastern Securities’ two phone numbers were disconnected, and the email shut down. When reached by the Post on Friday afternoon, Baisey’s project manager Tony Touchet hung up.
Baisey insists he has nothing to hide, and that his company has not gone dark.
“Um . . . sorry, no. That’s not possible. The company numbers work,” he said, then immediately added, “You may be right. The company numbers may have a problem.”
As for the email: “Maybe it’s jammed,” Baisey said. “I’ve been getting slammed by everyone. It’s very unfortunate.”
The whistleblower, Furij Al Furaij, works for both Kuwait National Petroleum Company — which just terminated their contract with Eastern Securities — and the Kuwait Embassy.
“I’m the advisor for the contracts,” Al Furaij tells the Post. “I’m good with the handlers. They showed me the photo, and I called the guy who killed the dogs.”
The conversation, he says, went like this:
“Why’d you do that?”
“Tony told me.”
“I don’t know.
“Why’d you kill them?”
“Don’t talk to me. I’m scared.”
Al Furaij says he told the police to speak with Touchet, and that Touchet said he told this worker to kill only three sick dogs, not 24.
“Tony lied,” Furaij says. “This guy who killed the dogs — he’s not a doctor. He just cleans the kennels.”
‘Just dig the grave and bury it’
When hired by Eastern Securities as a veterinarian in July of 2013, Branko Przar had served as a K9 handler in the Bosnian Army, but he had no medical training. He says the company knew this.
“I couldn’t do surgeries,” he says. “I’m not a university degree vet. I just went to high school.”
Przar found himself on a base in the middle of nowhere, on the side of a desert road. He was housed in a small apartment with five other men, was paid $1,100 US dollars per month, and was responsible for 151 dogs.
“Dogs were dying there because of bad, bad care,” he tells the Post. “One dog literally died — I was asking for the company to take the dog to be hospitalized in Kuwait. They didn’t want to pay for the trip and seven, eight hours later the dog was found dead in the kennel.”
Przar says the dogs were given medicine meant for sheep and pigs. “They wouldn’t even buy antibiotics for the dogs,” he says. “I cannot save dogs with no medicine.”
He says the dogs were underfed and water was stored in barrels on the kennel’s rooftop — by the time the dogs drank, the water was hot. Human workers, he says, went without water for a month, and had to spend their own money buying bottled water to drink and to shower.
‘Dogs were dying there because of bad, bad care… That company is full of a–holes who do terrible things.’
– Branko Przar, former Eastern Securities ‘vet’
“That company is full of a–holes who do terrible things,” he says. Handlers, he says, were “absolutely, absolutely, absolutely kicking the dogs.”
Przar says after complaining, he was invited to Baisey’s office for a meeting.
“I mentioned the abuse,” he says. “They said they didn’t know anything about that. I told him to his face that there was a problem with the dogs, that two of the dogs died in the last 10 days. He said he didn’t know anything about that.”
Przar also says he told Baisey that Tony Touchet knew all about the abuse, mistreatment and deaths of the dogs, and that Touchet had been trying to replace him from the beginning.
“After that, they put me in some office, not working with dogs,” he says. In August of 2014, weeks after that meeting, “I resigned and went home. Those people are such great liars, you cannot trust them — how far they will go for money.”
Victor Okuna came to Kuwait from his native Uganda in July of 2013. “Dogs with cancer were made to work,” he says. “I warned Tony Touchet about the condition of a dog twice in the seven days before she died. He said no.”
Okuna thought the dog, a 6- or 7-year-old shepherd, needed to be hospitalized. “She had lost her appetite. She had swelling in her belly. She was very weak — so weak she could not cry, could not wake up.”
When the dog died, Okuna informed Touchet. It was November or December of 2013, he says.
“He came around, saw the dog dead and said, ‘Just take the dog and go bury it. Just carry it across the road, dig the grave and bury it.’ She was buried without being wrapped in anything by five guys, in the presence of Tony himself.”
Okuna often saw other abuses. “A lot of kicking, especially by those involved in the training of the dogs,” he says. “I would see some handlers taking the dog in the corner and kicking hard.”
He says many dogs were kept in small cages that they couldn’t stand up in, and once a dog’s assigned handler left for vacation, or quit, the dog had no one.
“Once the handler goes, no grooming, no exercise,” Okuna says. “The dog s—ts, they clean it up, they give it food. That’s it.”
Jjunju Ibrahim, now 28, came over from Uganda in July of 2013.
“The company was operated by the Americans: Mr. Baisey and Mr. Tony,” he says.” He was paid $598.50 a month.
“They took our passports,” he says. The company tells its workers that they need the passports to process work visas that never materialize. Only once a worker has outlived their usefulness, or more likely is causing problems by complaining, are they allowed to go home.
“For 2 ½ years we were unable to communicate back to Uganda,” he says. Okuna, who spent two months in jail for trying to fly home without his passport, also says that no one is allowed to have cell phones on site — because most cell phones have cameras.
“If you were caught with a camera, you could be sent home or have your salary deducted,” Okuna says. “Only the team leader had a phone — company provided, no camera.”
CEO Baisey admits this.
“When you’re inside the camp, you can’t have your phone or camera,” he says.
“You can’t,” he says. “You just can’t. That’s the rules.”
Ibrahim says he, too, saw abuse. “In the kennel, someone came to pick a dog up. He wasn’t in good condition. He was a Malinois. He had a wound on his face.” The dog was anxious and jumpy, and he went for the handler.
“They kicked the dog,” he says. “I’m a dog lover. I love animals. This massacre, which I’ve seen on social media . . . it makes me want to cry.”
‘It’s a conspiracy’
Baisey says that once he learned of the slaughter, “I immediately formed a committee to find out what’s going on.” He’s still not sure how the dogs were killed.
“I think by injection,” he says.
“I really don’t know that detail,” he says. Baisey adds that the person who killed the dogs “does not work for Eastern Securities. He works for an agency that we lease the kennels from.”
Baisey says the slaughter is part of a conspiracy originating in the US, meant to bring down his company.
‘What you’re hearing, it’s people looking to ruin the company name.’
– Eastern Securities CEO Bill Baisey
“We don’t believe he did it on his own,” Baisey says. “We believe that certain people in the States are involved. Someone in Louisiana. He’s been trying so hard to steal the contract. What you’re hearing, it’s people looking to ruin the company name.”
Abuse of the dogs, Baisey says, is true. “I’m reading the reports right now because of all that’s happening,” he says. “Some handlers have abused their dogs. Our standard operating procedure is to not allow anything like that to happen.”
Baisey also admits that his company hires workers from third world nations rather than the US because they are cheaper, but denies any human rights violations — even though another company he owned, Najlaa, was investigated for human rights abuses in Iraq in 2008.
According to a 2011 report published by the Project on Government Oversight, 1,000 South Asian workers had been kept by Najlaa in a windowless warehouse for three months and had not been paid.
Najlaa was a catering company subcontracted by the Texas-based Kellogg Brown and Root, which in turn was contracted by the US Army.
The latter report, Baisey says, “is basically an allegation. We have filed a lawsuit against KBR in Houston.” The Post could find no such court filing.
As for why he has two names, and two passports: “Why is that unusual? My name is Bill Baisey.”
He declined to say where he was born, or his country of origin. “Let’s get this straight: This is not about me. This is not about Bill. We’re trying to figure out how this happened.”
The State Department tells the Post they’re aware of the report and declined to comment.
As of Friday afternoon, the remaining dogs on Eastern Securities site, number unknown, were in the care of the Kuwaiti government.