Syrian animal activist Fawad Kannan with one of the 60 cats he claims to have rescued this year. Image Credit: Supplied

DUBAI: Animal activists in the UAE say they are dealing with an unprecedented dumping spree as a record number of pets have been left to fend for themselves by their owners this summer.

“In July alone I rescued 60 cats in Dubai compared to 20 last year,” said Syrian animal activist Fawaz Kannan.

“There is a serious dearth of foster homes in the country, and that makes our job even more challenging. In recent months, many expats have either gone on vacation or left the country permanently, leaving their pets behind. I wish pet regulations were more stringent and owners were penalised for dumping these animals,” he said.

Manifold increase

Emirati animal activist Samah Al Manzalawy said pet abandonment cases have registered a manifold increase.

“Last month I rescued 20 cats from different parts of Dubai compared to four around the same time in 2017,” she said.

The drastic increase in numbers has put a tremendous strain on animal shelters many of which are at the breaking point.

“We are already overburdened and can’t accommodate any more pets,” said a woman who runs an animal shelter in Ras Al Khaimah.

Natalie Stone of Animal Action Abu Dhabi said the situation is no better in the capital. “It is extremely difficult to find these pets new homes as there are hardly any takers for them in Abu Dhabi,” she said.

A combination of job losses and rising pet care costs has been blamed as the main reasons for the spike in pet abandonment cases.

The cost of pet boarding in the UAE ranges from Dh30 to Dh180 a night. “Not many are willing to fork out this kind of money when they go on vacation. So they find the convenient option of leaving their pets on the roads,” said Samah Al Manzalawy.

Kanaan said most abandoned animals are sick and need urgent medical attention.

“We take the rescued animals to a vet where they are vaccinated and neutered. More often than not we have to put them back on the streets. We have no choice as no foster home wants them and not many people are willing to adopt them,” he said.


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