x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Sharjah struggles to control stray pets

Since it opened in February, the Cats and Dogs Shelter in Sharjah has spayed and neutered about 500 cats.

A worker at Sharjah Cats and Dogs Shelter catches a stray kitten at Rahmania district.
A worker at Sharjah Cats and Dogs Shelter catches a stray kitten at Rahmania district.

SHARJAH // There has been a surge in abandoned cats and dogs in Sharjah as more pet owners leave the emirate, leading to the threat of animal overpopulation, an official from the Cats and Dogs Shelter in the emirate has said. The local shelter is doing its best to address the situation. The new shelter, which opened in February and presently houses more than 60 cats and six dogs, has so far also spayed and neutered about 500 cats. Unsterilised stray and abandoned pets tend to breed prodigiously and can also fall victim to abuse, said a veterinarian at the shelter, Zoe Hamilton. "Pet overpopulation is a problem in the United Arab Emirates and many other countries and this is why we ask people to spay and neuter their pets," she said. Most of the cats trapped by shelter workers are found in the Rolla, Sharqan and Rahmanian areas. They are then taken to the shelter's clinic for sterilisation, vaccination and microchipping and then returned to their habitat. The shelter spays or neuters as many as 15 cats each day, Ms Hamilton said. Most of the dogs the shelter finds are euthanised, she said, adding that they usually have serious injuries from being abused by people. While residents once welcomed stray cats as a defence against the local rat population, some now complain there are far too many. "There is a cat here, a cat there and a cat everywhere," said Ali Ahmed, a resident of Rolla. "There should be intervention to control their population." The shelter tries to care for as many strays as it has room for, and provides potential pet owners with medically sound animals, said Emma Creswell, its director. "The aim of the shelter is to create a haven for cats and dogs within the Sharjah community who have the misfortune, through no fault of their own, become homeless," she said. "Each pet is regularly dewormed and given flea and tick preventive treatment." The CAD's cat shelter is a cageless building with eight suites, allowing the organisation to house as many as six cats or kittens in each room. Ms Creswell urged people to donate money to the shelter. Dh20 was enough to feed an animal for a month, she said. "The more donations we receive, the more animals we can help save," she said. Anyone who wants to adopt a cat or a dog can either visit the shelter or see the live video feed of the cats on webcams, she said. The shelter's internet address is www.scads.ae. The shelter is also building a dog park facility to allow dogs to exercise and play off the lead under the supervision of their owners. ykakande@thenational.ae

The article "Sharjah struggles to control stray pets" stated that the shelter puts to sleep a dog each day, in a bid to control the population. This has been amended to say the shelter is combating the threat of animal overpopulation by spaying and neutering abandoned animals.