Five dogs die and seven critically ill in suspected poisoning in Abu Dhabi
ABU DHABI // Five dogs have died and seven more are fighting for their lives after animal welfare workers found them with possible symptoms of poisoning.
The animals are a group of strays that have been fed and cared for by volunteers in the Mussaffah area over the last six months.
Post-mortem examinations are being carried out by vets to confirm cause of death before the incident can be reported to police, should there be signs of abuse having taken place.
Those to have survived, mainly puppies, have been vomiting blood and are being cared for at the Australian Veterinary Hospital in Khalifa City.
A spokeswoman there said all of the dogs tested positive for distemper, a highly contagious viral disease that can be potentially fatal, and some showed signs of poisoning.
"We did an autopsy on one of the dogs that has died and it could possibly have been poisoned as well," she said.
"We are going to send some stomach contents to the lab to determine if it does involve poison. Five have died in the last 24 hours."
The bill for treatment is expected to be paid for by the Animal Action UAE group, of which Briton Sarita Harding is a volunteer.
"The dogs were found on Monday by volunteers who usually check the feeding station for the dogs," she said.
"Seven were brought in critically ill and four were dead, including a pregnant dog. Another has since died.
"They were mixed breeds or strays we have been feeding for months, and we had been planning to complete a trap-neuter-release programme in that area, and to find them homes.
"Quite a few of them were puppies, so they were living together as a family.
"Without the conclusiveness of blood tests, we can’t confirm they were poisoned but they were vomiting, had blood coming from their mouths and nose and they also were suffering from diarrhoea.
"I have no idea who would have done this. We must leave that in the hands of the police once the vets have passed on test results of the dead dogs."
The Emirates Animal Welfare Society is also awaiting test results before offering advice on the course of action, as it could have been an accidental poisoning related to pest control in an industrial area.
Municipalities are responsible for regulating activities of private pest control companies through evaluation and qualification procedures.
A no-objection certificate needs to be issued to carry out pest-control activities, a prerequisite for companies obtaining a trade licence.
Dr Susan Aylott, a volunteer with Animal Welfare Abu Dhabi, said the incident shows the importance of taking care when putting down poison to control vermin.
"It could be disease, or an accidental poisoning," she said. "It is not clear. But there could still have been negligence from a pest controller in the area.
"We have seen other wildlife poisoned in the past in this area, such as fennec foxes. It was assumed rat poison had been used, and there is always the potential for it to harm local wildlife.
"There are other options available to dispatch rats that could be used instead. Only people qualified with dealing with poisons should be doing this kind of pest control. There are strict guidelines that need to be followed."
There has been a spate of recent cases of animal cruelty across the UAE, including men feeding a cat to two dogs, a teenager throwing a cat against a wall and incidents where animals were thrown out of moving vehicles.
Updated: June 16, 2017 05:01 PM