Abu Dhabi: Over 100 stray dogs have been found abandoned, hungry and lost while roaming the streets of Abu Dhabi this past year, and the number has been reported to rise by the day, Gulf News has learned.

Approximately 75 per cent of saved street dogs are a mixed saluki breed, which raises questions among saluki owners, according to statistics released to Gulf News by The American and British Veterinary Clinics in Abu Dhabi.

The rest of the dogs found on the streets include German Shepherds, huskies or smaller breeds that are released onto the streets by owners who decide they are unwilling to take responsibility for the animals.

Abandoned cats or street cats are lucky enough to have the support of Feline Friends (FF), and even then, treatment is still inhumane for the general animal population across the capital city.

Re-homing strays

The founders of FF said: "The municipality is no longer going around the streets to catch the cats; they are only responding to complaints from the public. These so called problem cats are still being euthanized and so the breeding continues. I think we are back to the same numbers as before they started the catch and kill programme. This remains a useless way to control the street cat population."

Until June, the American Veterinary Clinic (AVC) were euthanising up to 30 to 40 (if not more) cats a day. Street dogs stand a larger chance of survival through the strays of Abu Dhabi (SAD) initiative; a non-profit organisation committed to re-homing stray and abandoned animals.

According to Dr Rachel Shaw from the AVC and head of the homing and fostering coordinator for SAD, out of 50 stray dogs homed or saved in the past year, only four dogs have been put to sleep.

"I am glad we are not euthanising street cats anymore, it was heartbreaking and depressing to do. As for dogs, we have recently euthanised four dogs, and that's because two of them were aggressive and the other two had a growth disorder in their joints," said Shaw.

Jennifer Triplett from the British Veterinary Clinic (BVC) confirmed that 80 per cent of dogs are saved than are put down.

"A lot of times we find dogs and cats in baskets on our clinic's doorstep and we're expected to deal with them. Owners just don't want to take responsibility for their animals," Triplett said.

Mixed salukis that have recently been increasing in number on the streets of Abu Dhabi she said, are mostly found in areas such as Khalifa City or Al Raha.

"Many saluki hounds are kept in farms and evidently wander off and mix with other stray dogs, which in return adds to the stray dog population. As a result, puppies are left dumped and abused in the streets."

The unfortunate scenario presently being practiced is that if a person finds a dog or cat they contact a veterinary clinic who will perform a general medical checkup on the animal. If the animal is healthy, they try to find a home for it within a 48-hour time span.

Many saluki hounds are kept in farms and evidently wander off and mix with other stray dogs, which in return adds to the stray dog population. As a result, puppies are left dumped and abused in the streets. By the time we receive them in our clinic, they possess a snappish attitude, forcing us at times to euthanise them for safety purposes."

Animal experts share their views:

Dr Martin Wyness from the British Veterinary Clinic:

"Disease transmission among animals should be of minimal concern. Humans are far more likely to catch diseases from other humans than from other species (except perhaps from other primates). There is enough fear and ignorance regarding animals without falsely claiming that zoonotic disease is a major issue with stray dogs and cats."

"The solution? Put lids on skips and trap, neuter and release cats' into controlled areas where feeding is organised but reproduction controlled. Anything less than this is a waste of time and money!"

Treena Smith, Volunteer at the Strays of Abu Dhabi (SAD):

"If you need to give up your animal there are a number of ways to do it. Many of us at SAD have a list of people who are looking for specific breeds. Another solution is to design posters and place them in veterinary clinics and supermarkets."

"Send emails with photos of your animal to friends, ask them to send it to friends. Contact your local veterinary and ask if any of their clients would like to adopt the animal, but don't dump it in the streets. Personally I find that worse than putting the animal to sleep!"

Contact details for SAD: www.straysofabudhabi.com 050 130 7392

Jennifer Triplett, British Veterinary Clinic:

"We would never refuse to take a surrendered dog or cat, but it's just difficult to home all of them. People need to understand the responsibilities involved when owning an animal. It's not just there to look cute and entertain you, they do get allergies and do break down, and this should not be an excuse to toss them around or expect others to deal with them instead. Education is the answer."

Have you seen any stray dogs in your area? Would you be willing to adopt one if the necessary requirements were met? What can be done to ensure the safety of such animals?