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Animal cruelty needs to stop, says expert Filed on August 20, 2014
Animal cruelty needs to stop, says expert

Animal rescue group founder speaks to Khaleej Times about the urgent implementation of law against animal abusers.

Rocky passed away on August 9. He was a house cat, but never really a pet, his death is blamed on abuse and neglect.

Rocky’s story of extreme cruelty was the last straw for Daad Nassif, founder of Wags and Purrs animal rescue group, who spoke to Khaleej Times saying animal cruelty has reached an all-time high. She said that pets are abandoned in vacant apartments or dumped on streets as their caretakers leave the country or simply get bored of them.

Animal cruelty needs to stop, says expert (/assets/oldimages/thanimal1808.jpg)

“Apart from our daily rescues, we have been dealing with so many cases of cruelty and abuse since June, and Rocky’s case was so appalling that it became the face of neglect,” she said.

Rocky was a one-and-a-half year old male cat, kept in a cage for most of his life and forced into over breeding. On top of that, he was barely fed and his health was completely neglected.

“When we found him, he was like a block of wood - couldn’t move. He was severely dehydrated and was suffering from malnutrition. When we did the blood test, the machine indicated it is out of range. Because of dehydration, his body temperature was very low, and it started to fluctuate drastically up and down, so he had to be monitored by the minute. Cats control their bodily temperature but in Rocky’s case it meant he had suffered a brain damage. His seizures were so frequent, the doctors could not pursue treatment. All symptoms were indicating meningitis,” explained Nassif.

Rocky was kept in a house in Abu Dhabi, along with six other cats. One night fire broke out in the house and the breeder called Wags and Purrs to rescue the cats. Three of them were saved, including Rocky. “Sadly, we were too late for Rocky. He died in my arms at the vet hospital,” said Nassif.

Perhaps even more upsetting than the case itself, is that people — such as Rocky’s breeder — who abuse animals for financial gain and do not provide them even with the basic care, food and water.

Neglect is a form of abuse

“We have a law for animal welfare, federal law no 16/2007, that clearly states in Article four that neglect is a form of abuse and cruelty, and it can lead to the owner being penalised and fined with up to Dh20,000. The problem is that the law is not implemented,” stressed Nassif.

Once passed, a federal law needs to have a set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) implemented by the federal cabinet. Without them, the body meant to apply the law cannot do so. Since 2007, when the Federal law no 16 was passed, the SOP has not been implemented.

As a result, rescue groups and volunteers are left only with the option of calling the government number for Abu Dhabi or Dubai and register a complaint. Rarely, though, this leads to action against the person who abuses the animals — pets or otherwise.

Since nobody is found responsible for the ill-treatment of cats, dogs and other pets, it is the community, the volunteers who end up footing the bills for the treatment of the abused pets.

Since June, Wags and Purrs, which is a non-profit volunteer group, had over Dh15,000 vet bills for its rescued pets. “Why would you leave a cat on the street to bleed to death? Why would you chop a kitten’s tail? Why would you give me an ultimatum at 2am to come rescue a cat or otherwise you’ll dump it on the street? These people need to be taught that there are consequences for what they are doing to animals,” said Nassif.

Social media and animal rescue volunteers all over the UAE have endless stories of pets kept in cages, not fed, forced to breed or fight, left to die a slow painful death of starvation.

UAE Instagram accounts are full of “owners” of wild, even endangered species such as lions, cheetahs or chimpanzees, protected internationally, yet they remained untouched by law.

Silvia Radan

I'm a senior journalist with 22 years experience in all forms of mass media. Originally from Romania, I lived and work in Bosnia, Uzbekistan, England and, for the past 10 years, in UAE. I specialize in art, culture, traditions, heritage, but also environment and the hospitality industry. I'm passionate about jazz and world music, cinema, mythology and offroading - I'm a marshal with one of UAE's offroading clubs!

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