Animal shelter braces for spike in abandoned dogs
Stray Dogs Centre in Umm Al Quwain says increase in abandoned pets likely in summer
With higher temperatures and humidity upon us, animal welfare advocates say dogs face risk of abandonment and heat stroke from being left in cars or outdoors by unwitting pet owners.
The Stray Dogs Centre in Umm Al Quwain is bracing for a spike in dog rescues as pet owners leave pets behind when they exit the country permanently, or on holiday.
The British Veterinary Hospital in Dubai, meanwhile, is issuing an advisory to pet owners warning against leaving dogs in cars or exposed to the elements in gardens or backyards.
Amirah William, owner of the Stray Dogs Centre, told Gulf News that her rescue shelter is preparing for the worst as more dogs turn up needing care.
The centre is already grappling with 131 abandoned dogs at the facility and is expecting more on the heels of two reports of expats leaving their dogs behind in empty villas with no food and water.
Despite a steady rate of adoptions at the centre from people who would rather take in a rescued dog than buy from a pet store, William said there are an equal number of pets and stray dogs coming in to fill the vacated slots.
“When a doggy gets relocated, there’s always another one coming in to the shelter,” said William, a New Zealand native living in the UAE. “Thirty per cent are pets, 70 per cent are strays.”
The key challenge is educating the public about the onus of dog ownership in a highly-transient expat community where the long-term addition of a dog to a family is not always vetted thoroughly, she said.
When it’s time for an expat family to leave the country, owners often balk at the high cost of airfare, permits and other paperwork required to take the dog back to their home country and leave the dog behind in peril, she said.
“There are a lot of well-meaning people who want a dog, then a few months down the road they find it is not what they wanted,” William said. “I think a lot of people don’t think it through. We have a very transient [expat] community.”
She suggested expats should “not adopt a pet if you have no intention of taking it home.”
In Dubai, British Veterinary Hospital is reporting that it has already logged six cases of heat stroke by pet owners, two of which involved a parrot and a goat.
Dr Sara Elliott, British Veterinary Hospital’s director of veterinary services, said short-nosed dogs such as bulldogs, Pekinese and pug breeds are especially vulnerable to heat and owners need to be mindful.
Cats too are affected by high temperatures, Elliott said, noting that “people must realise the seriousness of the summer heat.”
“The rise in the number of short-nosed breeds in this hot country is phenomenal, and sadly we fully expect to see a large number of this type of dog and cat being carried into our hospitals by their frantic owners after suffering exposure to the elements,” she said.
Since March, three dogs have been treated for heat stroke but made a full recovery, she said.
Pets exposed to high heat can suffer life-threatening physical ailments such as heart failure, brain damage, seizures and organ damage, Elliott said.
10 pet-safety tips
Don’t let your pets walk on ground you can’t hold the palm of your hand on for 15 seconds
Never leave pets in a parked car for any amount of time in the heat
Don’t leave pets unattended at home for more than eight hours
Ensure your maid or home help are trained and briefed to look after your animals
Limit exercise times to evenings and mornings and take them walking only after long coats are trimmed
Don’t rely on a fan — pets do not sweat like us, so fans can have little effect
Provide ample shade and water whenever outside
Prepare for power issues, by having a backup house to take your pet to in emergencies
Consider effective gadgets, such as cool mats and jackets
Remove or permanently close door flaps to the garden, which can jam with devastating consequences
Source: British Veterinary Hospital