Silent cries for help are the loudest

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Adoption days like this showcase rescues of all personalities. Here, an Animals and Us Fujairah volunteer guides one of the more hyper buddies to pose for a photo.

Now that more animals are homeless, here is what we can do to help

By Sara Hameed

SHARJAH – From its hiding place, a quivering puppy caught sight of its dying mother and four siblings being taken away. Little did the rescuers know, this particular pup would have a secret of its own.

Our child selves have long dreamed of round, twinkling eyes gazing up at us, paired with a curious, wagging tail and big ears that flop with the wind. Yet, no two friends are similar. The Saluki, for instance, possesses a long, lithe frame, ideal for being the Bedouin’s companion. A lineage, which goes as far back as 7,000 B.C., this canine breed first appeared in the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia.

Today, many Salukis are abandoned. In fact, the Umm Al Quwain Stray Dogs Center has rescued 15 over the past two years alone, with five just this year.

Carlo Garrido, lead volunteer at the UAQ Stray Dogs Center, believes there has been a significant increase in the number of abandoned animals since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. In early 2020, there were around 400 dogs at the shelter; however, when people began repatriating, there was a sudden influx in animal dumping. Indeed, adoption may have increased in the United Arab Emirates, but the shelter houses as many as 1,000 dogs at this stage of the virus.

“For one adopted dog, 10 dogs are dumped,” Garrido estimated.

Adoption reduces the strain on shelters, as every adopted animal opens up room for a rescue that needs it. 

Adoption similarly contributes to reducing the stray animal issue in the UAE. As per the One Green Planet website, an overpopulation of stray animals has a direct impact on native wildlife. This is because they are usually unvaccinated, thus posing a risk of spreading rabies, and even transmitting internal parasites to other animals along contaminated food and waterways.

Not only this, but stray cats and dogs also kill smaller animals and birds.

K9 Friends Office Volunteer Courtney Brandt points out free-roaming animals are not spayed or neutered, either. As a result, they can produce a whole new generation of strays.

Animals as currency

“For a family, might be the pets of their dream; but for a breeder, just money.”

This is something Montserrat Martin, founder of the Animal Project, wrote in an e-mail exchange. 

She strongly expressed the industry of buying and selling animals is nothing but a “cruel spiral of lucrative actions,” where there is little to no consideration for the animals. According to her, animals are exposed to “terrible suffering,” as the mother is constantly used for reproduction until she can no longer do so. A puppy eventually takes her place, and so it becomes a vicious cycle. 

“Adopt, don’t shop!” is a famed campaign slogan we have all stumbled on before. To Martin, stopping the purchase of animals is the most effective part of this campaign since breeders will stop when they can no longer make money on demand.

While puppy mills are illegal in the country, Martin stressed these non-registered breeders have found their way online, and so it is important to report them to the Department of Economic Development, municipalities and health authorities.

Falling into the right paws

Now that you are aware of the homeless animal crisis, and what it means to adopt responsibly: what makes someone eligible for adoption?

Animals and Us Fujairah, a non-profit animal welfare group, listed three things: time, patience and love. It does not matter if one is a first-time pet owner or an experienced one. Rather, what matters is that they are committed and willing to give an animal a “fantastic life” for their entire lives. 

Still, it is important to understand that most pets, especially dogs, are completely reliant on their owners “just like a child.” 

This is why shelters have potential candidates fill out questionnaires. They are asked about their financial capacity, and whether they plan to take their pets with them if they are to leave the UAE. There are background checks on whether the candidate has a history of animal abuse, who lives with the candidate and an overview of their health history for allergies.

UAE shelters hold adoption days at different venues, the information for which is often provided on their social media.

The puppy’s secret

It all began when Garrido landed on a Facebook post requesting for the transport of an injured puppy from a rescue site to a vet in Ras Al Khaimah. 

He coordinated with a rescuer, who informed him that the entire litter needs help. Turning towards two more, the team agreed to meet at the rescue site, tucked within a construction area, the very next day.

What they found was this: six puppies huddled around their malnourished mother, one fearfully scurrying away, watching its family being plucked from their hiding place, one by one. Garrido narrates they had to take turns “round the clock” over several days to finally catch it.

As it turns out, the little friend was guarding four more of its siblings, making them 10 in total. 

In the end, they were all saved.

“We just need to be constantly helping each other out here for rescues, and to spread awareness.”