Dozens of cats are left to their fate in the Abu Dhabi desert
(CNN) — A group of residents of the United Arab Emirates found more than 140 abandoned cats in a deserted area in the capital, Abu Dhabi, in a phenomenon that sparked criticism from international animal rights organizations and prompted the government to conduct an investigation.
According to Chico Shergill, an Abu Dhabi resident who participated in the rescue, cats of all breeds, including non-domestic species such as Persian cats, have been left to die trapped in their cages or wandering in the desert without food, shelter or water.
The animals were abandoned across the road from the government-run Abu Dhabi Animal Shelter in Al Falah, a residential area in Abu Dhabi. The shelter told CNN it was not aware of the incident and declined to comment further.
Rescuers counted 50 dead cats in the group and have rescued 95 since September 28. A golden retriever was also rescued and a husky was found dead. Some of the animals had microchips, indicating they were not strays.
Temperatures in September reach 40.5°C (105°F) in Abu Dhabi. Desert temperatures can be higher during the day. This incident sparked criticism from international organizations and activists in the field of animal rights.
Animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is offering a $5,000 reward for information on “whoever dumped these cats in the desert,” Jason Baker, PETA Asia vice president, told CNN in a statement.
“This act of cruelty should not be glossed over… The solution to the homeless animal crisis is sterilization, neutering and adoption from overworked and understaffed shelters, something PETA Asia has been calling for in the UAE for years,” Baker said.
The Department of Municipalities and Transport in Abu Dhabi said on Wednesday that it would investigate the incident. It urged the public to report details of the incident and was taking steps to find those responsible.
Dr. Katherine Pollack, vice president of pets at the Humane Society International, told CNN she was glad to see authorities taking this issue seriously.
The volunteer rescue team works around the clock, and many take time off work, to continue rescuing abandoned cats, implanting microchips on them and finding homes for them, according to Shergill.
Ten pet cats from Dubai, an hour’s drive from Abu Dhabi, were identified using microchips and returned to their homes.
Abu Dhabi began a trap castration and return (TNR) program in 2008 to control stray and feral cats, primarily through the Abu Dhabi Animal Shelter.
The TNR program says it complies with “international animal welfare guidelines” and aims to release animals where they are trapped.
The International Organization for the Protection of Animals (OIPA) said in a statement that “animal dumping sites” are widespread in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and this was not an isolated incident, adding that it has been conducting campaigns for years for stray animals in the Emirates. The United Arab Emirates.