Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 25 April 2019

UAE issues cruelty warning after kittens 'thrown from building'

Strict new laws protect against animal cruelty, which is also 'against UAE religion and tradition'

A kitten pictured in Abu Dhabi. Last week, images of dead kittens lying motionless on a pavement, provoked public outcry after they were posted to social media Lee Hoagland / The National
A kitten pictured in Abu Dhabi. Last week, images of dead kittens lying motionless on a pavement, provoked public outcry after they were posted to social media Lee Hoagland / The National

The government has warned that cruelty to animals will not be tolerated after three kittens were killed by being hurled from an apartment in Abu Dhabi.

Authorities said that a police investigation into the incident is continuing. An older cat also died from its injuries, despite being found alive and taken to a veterinarian.

Images posted on social media of the kittens lying motionless on a pavement provoked a public outcry, with people expressing anger and distress.

The animals are believed to have been thrown from a third or fourth-floor apartment.

The perpetrator has been identified and is now facing the possibility of punishment under the country’s anti-animal cruelty laws, which have been strengthened recently.

Dr Majid Al Qassimi, director of animal health at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, which received the initial report of the crime, said the Abu Dhabi Municipality and police were investigating.

Dr Al Qassimi assured the public that any animal cruelty would be taken seriously.

The agency condemned the incident as horrific and said the country was vehemently opposed to all forms of cruelty.

The agency explained the consequences of animal cruelty, as set out in 2007 legislation and toughened up in 2016. The new law came into force this month.

“The ministry works with all parties concerned to ensure that the federal law is enforced in letter and spirit,” Dr Al Qassimi said.

“We wish to remind the public that cruelty to animals is not only punishable under the law but is also against the religion and traditions of the UAE.

“We encourage the public to report instances of cruelty to animals to the local authorities so that action can be taken against the offenders.”

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The wide-ranging rules outline the responsibilities of animal owners; stringent health and technical requirements of places that keep animals; mandatory nutrition requirements; and guidelines for loading, transporting and unloading animals.

Abandoning animals is illegal, while pets must also be provided with proper shelter, food and health care. Harming animals physically or neglecting them is defined under the law as animal cruelty.

The details of how the kittens ended up on the pavement have not been confirmed but Dr Manal Al Mansoori, director of the animal welfare organisation Yanni, said police told her that an adult had admitted his teenage son threw them from the window.

The father reportedly said the child has autism, sparking conversations on social media as to whether children with such disabilities should have pets.

But Dr Al Mansoori, who reported the incident to police after seeing the images of the kittens, said a psychologist had told her there was no reason an autistic child would do such a thing.

Her charity is planning a proposal to the government, establishing a service in which children with some disabilities will be matched with animals.

Several studies show that autistic children can benefit from contact with pets and similar schemes have proved successful in other countries.

“The police have taken the father responsible for the whole incident,” Dr Al Mansoori said.

“Having spoken to a psychologist, we believe that in general an autistic child would not do such an act but, if that child was under severe stress, caused by the family, negligence, anything else, that is why maybe they could do it.

We will make a proposal to the government to make a special clinic bringing together autistic children and animals.

“In the US there are many studies and existing clinics where they place the children, and especially dogs, together and there is an improvement in the child.”

Updated: December 27, 2018 10:29 PM

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