Plight of abandoned pets in UAE

"If they start a fund of just Dh100 per month, by the time they leave the country people would afford to take their pets with them," she said.


Silvia Radan

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Published: Wed 13 Jul 2016, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 8 Dec 2022, 11:48 AM

An Australian family about to leave Abu Dhabi for good, stops by at a veterinary centre on their way to the airport to dump their dog, asking the receptionist to put the loving animal to sleep.

The dog has been with the family for years, a great companion and playmate for the two children of the Australian couple, who began screaming, shouting and crying in the vet office, hearing what their parents were asking.

The vet staff tried to reason with the family, but they had a plane to catch, so they grabbed their heartbroken children and walked away leaving the dog to whatever fate.

As it happened, the dog got lucky, being adopted by a loving family soon afterwards, but dozens of other pets, abandoned every day on the streets of Abu Dhabi suffer the consequences of animal cruelty.

"The number of abandoned pets this year is beyond any number we've seen before. The summer holidays have just began and we already have 50 cats and dogs rescued every day," said Daad Nassif, the founder of Wags and Purrs Rescue Group.

Summer is the most critical time of the year for pets, as this is when the largest number of them are being abandoned by people claiming they cannot afford to take them along when travelling on long holidays or leaving the country for good.

"We all know about the summer cycle for dumping pets, but this year there is another reason as well - a lot of people have lost their jobs and are leaving the country, claiming it's too expensive to take their pets with them," she pointed out.

Most airlines charge around $300 for a pet crate regardless of its size. Nassif herself recently sent two cats to USA and paid $175 for each one travelling from Dubai to Chicago.

Most airlines nowadays accept transporting pets as excess luggage, which is a lot cheaper than chartered cargo. In both cases the pets are treated with the same care, but chartered cargo costs are calculated by volume, ending up being a lot more expensive. UK, New Zealand and Australia (the most expensive destinations for a pet to travel to) are among the last countries to accept chartered cargo for pets. Still, according to Nassif, transport costs should not be an excuse for abandoning pets. When committing to care for a cat, dog, a parrot, a hamster or any other pet, people should budget for these animals, whose lives depend on them.

"If they start a fund of just Dh100 per month, by the time they leave the country people would afford to take their pets with them," she said.

House animals cannot survive on the street as they lose their hunting skills, depending on human being for food and water. They are too scared to survive and often get attacked and injured by stray animals. The ones not found and rescued by groups such as Wags and Purrs mostly end up killed or dying a slow, painful death.

Adoption rates drop to a minimum in the summer as a lot of people are travelling, and so are those who foster rescued animals, meaning less homes, even temporary ones for these pets, making saving animals a crusade for the handful of rescuers across the city.

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