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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Sharjah Municipality calls on public to report animal abuse after video of overheated cat prompts outcry

Municipality officials said the cat shown in the video was distressed due to switching off the air conditioner in the shop.

Caged cat for sale at the Sharjah Birds and Animals market. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Caged cat for sale at the Sharjah Birds and Animals market. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Witnesses of animal abuse are being urged to report it to Sharjah Municipality after a video of an overheated cat at the pet market was widely shared and caused outcry from animal welfare activists.

The video, taken by two Sharjah residents last week, showed a caged longhair cat heavily panting in a non-air conditioned room. The couple posted the video on the Facebook page for the Bin Kitty Collective — an animal welfare group in the UAE — prompting strong criticism from the public about the treatment of animals at the Sharjah Birds and Animals Market.

The following day, municipality inspectors visited the market and, according to a vendor, fined some of the pet shop owners.

On Tuesday, municipality officials confirmed that the video was filmed in the pet market and showed the cat in distress because the air conditioning had been turned off in the shop.

In a statement, it called on the public to report such cases of animal abuse to the municipality.

“The municipality deals strictly with animals welfare offences. Health and medical care are provided for pets at the market,” said Dr Amal Al Shamsi, director of the public health department at Sharjah Municipality.

UAE Federal Law 18, issued in December 2016, fines individuals found guilty of abusing or illegally hunting, buying or selling animals up to Dh200,000. The law also penalises offenders with up to a year in prison.

It was issued after a string of animal welfare abuses were exposed on social media.

Animal welfare activists have long called for the closure of the Sharjah Birds and Animal Market over the deplorable living conditions for animals. In February 2016, some shops were dyeing bunny rabbits bright colours ahead of Easter. The year before, kittens on sale at one shop were discovered to have been stolen only to be resold.

Dr Al Shamsi said the municipality would continue to carry out inspections at the market to ensure animals were being treated well.

In December 2016, Federal Law 18 — which fines individuals found guilty of abusing or illegally hunting, buying or selling animals up to Dh200,000 — was issued. The law also penalises offenders with up to a year in prison.

The law was issued after a string of animal welfare abuses were exposed on social media.

Cases of animal abuse can be reported to the municipality by calling 993 or by contacting a vet at the market.

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Read more:

Animal welfare activists call for harsher penalties against Sharjah pet market

Animal market in Sharjah faces welfare complaints

Sharjah pet sellers dyeing rabbits for Easter a ‘cruel gimmick’ say vets

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