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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Animal rescue group issues warning over bogus foster owners

Rescue of Abu Dhabi said two kittens disappeared in the care of a volunteer

Patchi and Simone, four month-old Arabian Mau kittens, have gone missing in the care of a foster owner, says Rescue of Abu Dhabi. The group is warning other rescue organisations to be careful about who they sign up as volunteers. Courtesy of Rescue of Abu Dhabi
Patchi and Simone, four month-old Arabian Mau kittens, have gone missing in the care of a foster owner, says Rescue of Abu Dhabi. The group is warning other rescue organisations to be careful about who they sign up as volunteers. Courtesy of Rescue of Abu Dhabi

An animal rescue group is warning similar welfare organisations to screen their volunteers carefully after two kittens disappeared in the care of a foster.

Rescue of Abu Dhabi placed two four month-old Arabian Maus with a contact of a friend for two weeks.

Both kittens, called Patchi and Simone, were rescued from the streets when they were six weeks old. Patchi was found inside a car engine.

“The night before we were due to pick up the cats we messaged the contact and said can you please send us the pin location so we could forward it to the driver,” said Tracey Hughes, an Abu Dhabi-based rescue coordinator with the group.

“She said ‘yes, absolutely, no problem. Please make sure it is before 12pm,’”

However, when the Rescue of Abu Dhabi group member arrived at the location, she realised it was wrong.

She tried to contact the foster without success and the group has since struggled to get through to her as she has blocked many members’ numbers, including Ms Hughes, a Briton who has lived in Abu Dhabi for five years.

“We went to the police station on Friday but the police don’t really want to get involved in this sort of case,” she said.

“There was one gentleman who did call the lady and spoke to her. She told him that they were picked up five days ago by somebody and he said okay and just put the phone down.”

Ms Hughes said she suspected the foster may have given the kittens away following a conversation they had last week about adoption procedures.

“She had a friend who potentially wanted to adopt,” she said. “We went through that information.

“They didn’t want to pay the adoption fee that covers their vaccinations, microchips – their medical bills, basically. That is Dh700 per cat.”

“Her friend wanted to take the cat for free.”

Rescue of Abu Dhabi, which is part of the Emirates Animal Welfare Society, normally has strict protocols when it comes to fostering.

Volunteers must sign a form which acts as a contract between the two parties and they must also provide a copy of their Emirates ID. This was not followed in this case, however, as it was a friend of a friend of the group, said Ms Hughes.

“The normal protocols were not followed and it’s come back to bite us, basically,” she said

She urged other groups to be careful and follow procedure, no matter who the foster is.

“Get a copy of the Emirates ID and a completed foster form,” she added.

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The group has posted pictures of the kittens online in the hope that anyone who has taken them in realises what happened.

“But they are Maus and there are hundreds and thousands of them. They all look very similar,” Ms Hughes.

The group is now considering raising a police or civil case against the foster.

Animal welfare experts estimate that there are around 100,000 stray cats living in the capital alone.

They are fed by a network of community groups and organisations, many of which also carry out trap, neuter and release programmes designed to control their numbers.