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Abu Dhabi to establish shelter for feral cats, dogs.

Abu Dhabi The Abu Dhabi government will soon establish a shelter for destitute cats and dogs, the first of its kind in the emirate, in a bid to promote animal welfare, officials announced yesterday.

All stray cats and dogs in the emirate will be implanted with a microchip after they are caught from the streets, treated and neutered in accordance with international standards.

The details on the microchip implants will be entered into a database, which will help people re-unite with their pets in case they are lost.

Following the approval of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, the animal shelter dedicated to the care of feral cats and stray dogs is being set up under the management of Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital (AFH), in association with the Centre of Waste Management u Abu Dhabi (CWM).

The shelter will be capable of housing about 200 animals.

Vet care

Once established, it will take over responsibility of neutering these animals from private veterinary clinics. Until now, the CWM used to trap animals from streets with the help of private companies and deliver them to private veterinary clinics for neutering.

"The way these animals were trapped and handled by private companies generated many complaints from residents and animal lovers. This led to the decision to set up the shelter," an official, who asked not to be named, said.

"The Falcon Hospital, being a specialised and caring veterinary hospital, is the ideal entity to manage this new shelter," he added.

All feral cats and stray dogs are neutered to control their population. In 2007, there were an estimated 7,000 feral cats living in the emirate, official figures show. Authorities expected the number to double within one year, posing a public health threat. Their habitat and diet, consisting mostly of garbage, makes for a harsh existence and most strays suffer from parasites and infected wounds resulting from fights, road accidents and abuse.

A study was conducted to learn about international best practices in feral cat and stray dogs control programmes in countries such as USA, Canada and Europe, after which authorities drew up a set of guidelines and regulations for the emirate.

"It covers all issues of trapping, handling, neutering and adoption, to raise feral cat and stray dog welfare to international standards," he said.

The location of the shelter has not been finalised yet. It will be a full-fledged facility housed in seven buildings and will include a quarantine station as well as surgery and treatment rooms.

The decision to establish such an animal shelter clearly shows the strong dedication and commitment of the Abu Dhabi government to support the welfare of all animals including feral cats and stray dogs, said Majid Al Mansouri, Managing Director of CWM. The government has always been in the forefront in caring for endangered species and welfare of all animals, he added.

"The invaluable support of government for this project will raise awareness among the general public to understand the importance of the animal shelter and the need for all Abu Dhabi residents to care for animals that live in poor conditions," said Dr Margit Gabriele Muller, Director of AFH.


up for adoption

Healthy cats and dogs will be put up for adoption after being screened for any diseases, vaccinated and implanted with microchips, officials said.

"Stray animals brought to the centre will undergo a complete check up. Healthy animals will be put up for adoption, after proper care, via a dedicated website and hopefully find good homes," an official said.

The website is currently under construction and will be launched soon. It will display photos of animals available for adoption along with general information about the care of cats and dogs, to ensure their well-being.

Currently adoptions are done through informal channels such as veterinary clinics, but this will streamline the process, he added.

Sick animals will be completely treated to ensure that only disease-free cats and dogs are kept in the shelter.

u R.A.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Jun 7, 2010
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