Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 August 2019

Online animal welfare scheme will stamp out cruelty

Launched this week as part of broader scheme, the public will now be able to quickly report abuses to the authorities

There is one sureshot way for the public and authorities to come together to ensure animal welfare. AP Photo
There is one sureshot way for the public and authorities to come together to ensure animal welfare. AP Photo

The online early-warning system launched this week, which allows members of the public to report animal cruelty and welfare issues, is a step in the right direction. Part of a broader scheme, it will serve as a reminder to people that they will be held to account if they hurt animals, and gives residents an easy way to share concerns with UAE authorities.

Last year, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment announced that residents who abandon their pets could suffer legal consequences. In the UAE, with its transient working environment, this is a serious problem that needs addressing.

Many UAE residents go out of their way to help stray or abandoned pets. But a minority are actively harming animals – be it by smuggling rare pets into the country to sell, or abusing the creatures in their care. Last year, for instance, a UAE resident filed a police report after her neighbour shot one of her cats and demanded she pick up the dying creature from his house. Incidents such as this prove that more can be done to improve animal welfare in our communities.

But the scheme also illustrates the value of hotlines and websites that allow the public to inform authorities about issues or abuses. As The National reported, almost 500 calls were made to Sharjah’s 24-hour child abuse hotline in the first six months of this year – one in 10 of them to report “urgent” cases of abuse.

The UAE is rightly hailed as a safe and stable place, where anyone can come to live freely and work hard. But, like anywhere else, bad things can happen – and it is vital that people who witness abuses have a quick and easy way to report them. There is, after all, a give and take between a government and its citizens. By working together, we can help protect vulnerable animals, deter future abuse, and ensure that those who mistreat their pets face the full force of the law.

Updated: July 18, 2019 02:41 PM

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