Animal rescuers have shared outrage after they claimed to have found “more than 100” cats and kittens – many of them dead – dumped in the Abu Dhabi desert.
The felines were discovered in the Al Falah area of the UAE capital, close to the emirate’s Falcon Hospital.
Video footage shared with Al Arabiya English shows scores of cats lying dead or buried in the sand.
Those that were still alive were visibly weak and dehydrated, said the rescuers, who had been working through the night to find them temporary homes.
Almost all of the cats were found to have been microchipped and neutered through TNR (trap, neuter, release programs).
Speaking to Al Arabiya English, Chiku, an expatriate, visited the location to help save the cats. She described the site as a “massacre.”
“Yesterday, an Abu Dhabi-based rescuer alerted me regarding a terrible situation at a place where he said he had seen more than a hundred dumped cats. They were left to die. I shared this information with the other rescuers,” Chiku said.
“Some rescuers, including those from Dubai, have gone to help out. We couldn’t save all the cats because many were already dead or were collapsing in front of us,” Chiku said, adding: “The other cats were too weak and we had to lift them up to our carriers. They were very dehydrated and left to die in the desert.”
Apart from two, all the other cats that were saved (35-38) were neutered and microchipped, he said.
“I have also seen some cats that were dead right inside their unopened carriers,” Chiku added.
She believes the felines were probably relocated by pest controllers.
Tadweer, the government department responsible for pest control, uses several contractors to deal with stray cats, who are usually taken to Falcon Hospital, where they are checked for disease and, if found to be healthy, are neutered and returned to the community where they were found.
Chiku said: “We are trying our best to tackle this particular issue of dumping of cats … to leave them to die in such a horrific, inhumane way.”
She further said: “We are advising people, if they happen to come this way, to please bring water/food. There are still many cats that we were unable to rescue yesterday because the area is very big.”
Further explaining the situation at the desert site, Chiku said: “It is a massacre out there. I have never experienced anything like this before. I can never forget it.”
Jacqueline Appleby, who lives in Khalifa City, had also visited the site after being alerted by a rescuer who volunteers for animal welfare in the emirate.
“The smell will haunt me forever,” she said. “It is absolutely horrific. There were many, many dead cats lying around.”
She said about 38 live cats were found, but they were in a weak and fragile state.
“We have taken five and they are in our bathroom now. Somebody else took 20. Of the five that we have taken, all have been freshly TNR-ed and all have microchips. Some have still got stitches (from the TNR process) in their stomach,” Appleby said.
“We have also checked the dead ones and they were found to be microchipped as well. This is absolutely horrendous – it is the most terrible thing I have ever seen in my life. It’s barbaric,” she added.