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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Camels and foxes and snakes, oh my: the hard work never ends for RAK Animal Welfare Centre

The centre will soon also open the first outdoor dog park in the UAE, along with a hotel for dogs

Ras Al Khaimah Animal Welfare Centre, who are also organising a three-month campaign to treat and rehome stray cats and dogs. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Ras Al Khaimah Animal Welfare Centre, who are also organising a three-month campaign to treat and rehome stray cats and dogs. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Stray camels wandering on the roads are among the main issues Ras Al Khaimah Animal Welfare Centre deals with each week, along with abandoned pets and the relocation of wild animals away from residential areas.

The centre receives many calls about stray camels, donkeys, horses, goats and even cows wandering on the highways, putting motorists at risk while the owner of the stray animal can be fined between Dh500 and Dh2,000, depending on the animal type.

“Our team hit the road when we receive a call about an animal wandering on the street. We impound the animals and wait for their owner to come and collect them. If it’s the first time we give him a verbal warning, the second time they get a written warning and the third time he pays the fine depending on the animal type,” said Abdullah Al Bloushi, administrative manager of the centre.

The centre's clinic treats and neuters sick cats. Chris Whiteoak / The National
The centre's clinic treats and neuters sick cats. Chris Whiteoak / The National

The centre has designated an area for big animals along with special places for the smaller ones.

“We have a place outside the centre for the big animals such as camels, horses and cows, while the small animals like dogs and cats stay at the centre,” said Mr Al Bloushi.

Strays are the number one issue the centre deals with and second is abandoned animals.

“We trap stray cats and dogs, sterilise and return them, according to the 'trap, neuter and return' programme, which helps in improving the animals' lives, prevents health problems, stops the breeding cycle and reduces the public complaints,” said Dr Chenjerai Sigauke, medical manager at the centre.

The centre traps, sterilise and release around 70 dogs and more than 100 cats each month.

“We might keep some of the stray animals depending on their behaviour and put them up for adoption,” he said.

The centre receives more than 30 abandoned cats and dogs during the summer season between June and October.

“We receive calls from people about abandoned cats and dogs left behind after their owners exit the country. We take the animal and try to find his owner using the microchip and see if they are still in the country, if not then we keep them for seven days and then put them for adoption after performing the necessary health check-ups and monitor their behaviour,” said Mr Al Bloushi.

Lamar (the dog) with Karam George. A dog park will be opening soon at the RAK Animal Welfare Centre. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Lamar (the dog) with Karam George. A dog park will be opening soon at the RAK Animal Welfare Centre. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Dr Sigauke said that in order to cut the numbers of abandoned animals, a law should be implemented along with fines.

“It’s a major issue and we need new legislation in order to control the situation and lower the rates of abandoned pets as they should be officially registered under the owner’s name and the owner should be fined for leaving the pet behind,” said Dr Sigauke.

The centre also receives complains about wild animals such as foxes and snakes.

“Foxes appear mostly in Al Dhait. We set traps and when we capture them we either give them to the zoo, or one of the nature reserves, and we release the snakes back into the wild in their own habitat away from residential areas,” said Mr Al Bloushi.

The centre functions under RAK Government Public Services Department and has a vet clinic, pet shop and provides grooming services, boarding services, relocation services and will soon open the first outdoor dog park in the UAE, along with a hotel for dogs and a daycare facility.

“The park is expected to be ready in few months and is being built on a 7,000 square metre area. It will offer off-leash areas for dogs to play and run freely, a dog walking path, a fully equipped agility park and two swimming pools,” said Mr Al Bloushi.

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The park will also include a café where dog owners can relax and watch their dogs play.

“There will be a variety of services provided for dogs owners who are visiting RAK and wish to leave their dog with us during their stay in the emirate, and also for working owners who wish to leave their dogs with us during their long working hours,” he said.

The fees have not been determined yet but the centre says they will be affordable.

The centre also organises awareness campaigns on the importance of sterilising animals and how to look after pets.