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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Animal abuse needs 'special legal task force', says pet expert  

Emirati Afra Al Dhaheri says Cloud 9 Pet Hotel and Care has spent Dh300,000 on treating abused animals last year alone

Cat kept in pet boarding at Cloud 9 Pet Hotel and Care. Khushnum Bhandari / The National
Cat kept in pet boarding at Cloud 9 Pet Hotel and Care. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Emirati Mouza Al Shamsi is still waiting for justice for her two cats after her neighbour shot them both in separate incidents, leaving one of them dead.

In March, Sugar, a white Turkish breed, went missing and Ms Al Shamsi received a call from her neighbour telling her to pick up her "devil cat" from his house because it "refused to die".

Sugar was collected, covered in blood after having been shot twice. She died soon after.

It has been two months since Ms Al Shamsi filed a police report about the incident and, while the case has been referred to prosecution, her neighbour is yet to be charged. In the mean time, Coco, her other cat who had already survived a shooting, has, according to Ms Al Shamsi, been catnapped.

"Nothing happened [with police] and [my neighbour] went ahead and kidnapped our other cat. A man like that should be fined or jailed for animal abuse.”

Cloud 9 Pet Hotel and Care in Abu Dhabi sees many cases like this. For example, there is seven-year-old, cream-coloured Saluki April. Watching her chase birds around the garden in her wheelchair and interact with people, it is difficult to tell how much she has suffered at their hands. But her legs had to be amputated after a group of teenagers shot her three times and then ran her over with a car.

“She came to us bloody, dehydrated and paralysed,” said Afra Al Dhaheri, the founder and owner of Cloud 9, which opened seven years ago. April's legs had to be amputated after she began chewing on them, says Ms Al Dhaheri, and now sadly no one wants to adopt her.

Afra Al Dhaheri, head of Cloud 9 Pet Hotel and Care with two legged dog. Khushnum Bhandari / The National
Afra Al Dhaheri, head of Cloud 9 Pet Hotel and Care with two legged dog. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Cloud 9 spent at least Dh300,000 on treating abused animals last year alone, and now Ms Al Dhaheri is urging stricter punishments and rules on animal abuse.

"More should be done. Instead of waiting for a neighbour to report [abuse] or for a video [of abuse] to go viral, there should be a special legal task force to monitor and punish people who abuse animals," she said, adding that with the potential of harsh penalties for videoing others many people would be deterred from reporting abuse that way.

Ms Al Dhaheri says there needs to be an easier way of reporting people who hurt animals to the authorities.

In another example of horrible abuse, Cloud 9 recently took in a cat that had its paws tied together so tightly with a telephone cable that they decayed and became infested with maggots. The cat eventually had to be put down after becoming extremely aggressive towards people — a result of the abuse it sustained.

The cat was brought in by a resident who reported seeing a neighbour's children abusing it before abandoning it on the street.

“We see these cases almost every day," said Ms Al Dhaheri. "Pets who have been injured by rocks that have been thrown at them or burned or shot, and almost every imaginable kind of torture and abuse.”

The Emirati says animal abuse has nothing to do with nationality, religion or culture, and that "it happens everywhere in the world". "It has to do with families and how they raise and educate their children,” she said.

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Read more:

Two arrested over video of cat being fed to dogs could be charged under UAE animal cruelty law

Cat killing video condemned by UAE minister

Dubai Ruler orders men who fed a cat to their dogs to clean zoo for three months

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In 2016, UAE Federal law 18, raised fines from Dh5,000 to Dh200,000 with a prison term of up to a year for anyone caught abusing, illegally hunting or buying or selling animals.

Lawyer Ali Al Mansoori said that while there have been cases filed against individuals who have been caught abusing pets, "they are very few. Probably once a year".

The last case he recalled was of two men who were arrested last year after a video showed a cat being fed to dogs. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, ordered that the men clean Dubai Zoo for three months under new community service laws.

On Mrs Al Shamsi's case he said, "Since the case has been referred to prosecution, it may take some time depending on the evidence that was provided. Their neighbour might have denied the entire incident or he might have confessed. The law will take its course and depending on the evidence, the man will be charged accordingly," he said

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