Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 August 2019

Dubai cat rescuers 'disgusted' as animal shot in spine with air gun

Vets refuse to operate as the bullet is lodged under her spine, leaving her at risk of paralysis if she undergoes surgery

The air gun pellet can be seen in their x-ray taken by a vet. Courtesy: Fawaz Kanaan
The air gun pellet can be seen in their x-ray taken by a vet. Courtesy: Fawaz Kanaan

A stray cat has been left at risk of paralysis and a lifetime of pain after being shot by an air gun in Dubai.

The female cat was shot in the back in the incident, which took place on Umm Al Sheif Road in Jumeirah.

Vets are unwilling to operate because the bullet is lodged under her spine, making the procedure too risky to proceed.

“The doctor suggested not to do any surgery, just to leave it as it is if you as it is if you want to save the life of the cat,” said Fawaz Kanaan, who helped rescue her.

He said it is not the first time he has found a cat in the same condition.

“This is the fifth case. The first was in 2016. Last year I found three. Some were in Jumeirah, some in Mirdif.

“It’s disgusting. Something has to be done.”

He heard about the latest case through a Sri Lankan maid, who feeds cats in the area. He often helps her out with cat food as she cannot afford to buy it.

“She said one of my cats is walking funny and she’s not active. Can we take her to your clinic?," he said.

“I get a special rate for the strays.”

Courtesy Fawaz Kanaan
The cat was found limping in the Jumeirah neighbourhood.

The vet examined the cat and suggested they perform an x-ray.

“We didn’t realise there was a bullet at first because there was no bleeding at all,” said Mr Kanaan, is from Syria and has seven cats of his own.

He posted about the cat’s plight on The Bin Kitty Collective Facebook page, which helps arrange treatment and find homes for stray and injured cats, and called for someone to adopt the cat to save her from returning to the streets. No one has come forward as yet.

Mr Kanaan suggested anyone interested in adopting the cat should get in touch with Advanced Pet Care Clinic in Jumeirah, where she is being treated.

The UAE has strict laws governing animal abuse. Anyone caught abusing, or illegally hunting or buying or selling animals faces a fine of up to Dh200,000 and a one-year prison term under Federal Law 18, which was issued in 2016.

“There are strict laws, but trying to find the person who did this and bring them to justice is another matter,” said Dr Susan Aylott, who established and runs Animal Welfare Abu Dhabi. She owns a cat which had to have its leg amputated because it was shot by an air gun. The shooter has never found.

“The laws are great. There was a recent amendment to the law about abandonment as well. I just hope they are able to find the perpetrator and when they do this is taken seriously and the law implemented.”

Phil Grange, one of three admins of the Bin Kitty page, said acts of animal cruelty are still all too common across the UAE, despite having laws to protect them.

“That's just what we hear about,” said Mr Grange, from the UK. The group currently has about 31,500 members.

“There's probably a whole lot more going on that never gets noticed. There's another air gun post live right now on our page. I'd say we hear about air gun attacks about four times a year and other physical abuse of cats every two or three days on our page.

“It's quite disheartening.”


Read more:

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New pet abandonment law only solves 'part of the problem'

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Late last year the UAE’s National Conference on Animal Welfare heard a plea from officials warning vets to watch for cases of animal cruelty by children, as it could be a precursor to harming fellow humans.

Many experts agree.

“There is a connection between animal abuse and also people going on to commit crimes against humans. These are the sort of people we don’t want in society,” said Dr Aylott.

“They need to be either removed from society or at the very least educated that animals are part of our community. They are sentient creatures and they have every right to be here.”

Updated: January 13, 2019 04:03 PM