Animal Rights Advocates Plan to Build Sanctuary in Abu Dhabi
An Animal Rights Article from


Dina El Shammaa,
December 2009

Abu Dhabi: Animal lovers are raising as much donations as possible in order to build an animal sanctuary for thousands of thirsty, hungry, ill and injured animals roaming the streets of Abu Dhabi.

Cats and dogs are found dead in the middle of highways with cars repeatedly driving over their bodies, or stuck under car tires by the hour.

While cats struggle to find shelter and water, their also witnessed taking refuge from fear of being put down. Dogs end up abused, dead or severely ill or injured. Those are just some of the conditions street animals go through on hourly basis.

For that reason, citizens in the capital city, such as Laurel Moore, who has moved to Abu Dhabi eight months ago, has decided to do something about the poor living conditions among stray animals.

Moore, an artist, is in the process of organizing an Animal Lovers Art Auction to help raise funds for the Strays of Abu Dhabi (SAD) who along with other none-profit organizations across the capital city, are interested in building an animal sanctuary.

The art auction will include 51 international paintings (16 local and 35 from the USA) that will be auctioned for a week at the Abu Dhabi Millennium Hotel by April 2010.

“It was week one when I saw a stray dog dead in the road. Then as the weeks went by I began noticing many thin stray cats wandering around, one particular thin family living under a shopping trolley barely surviving the summer heat. For me this didn’t seem right,” said Moore, who adopted two saluki dogs from the SAD shortly after that.

SAD and Feline Friends (FF) currently depend on donations, and many times help home and offer services to stray animals from their own savings. Neither organization has a sponsors to date.

Some of SAD’s costly animal services include vaccinations/worming and tick and flea control for street dogs; medications and treatment for sick or injured stray animals; kennel fees since SAD pay full price for kennels for six months of the year; and sterilizations of adopted dogs (spays and neuters).
According to FF founders, Anita and Colin Signorino, their yearly running costs are over Dh160, 000 which mainly consists of vet bills. The couple spend Dh400 to spay as much female street cats as possible and neuter male cats for Dh300.

“We survive on adoption fees, which barely cover the cost of getting a cat ready for adoption and a few fundraisers during the year. Our dream and ultimate goal is to have a small but well equipped shelter for mainly cats and dogs, with a clinic, a vet and technicians. That would greatly reduce our running costs and allow us to help more abandoned street animals,” said the FF founders.

Dr. Rachel Shaw, from the American Veterinary Clinic (AVC) and head of the homing and fostering coordinator for SAD feels that by working together with other animal related organizations such as FF, there will be a significant increase in the number of animals assisted.

“Ultimately the goal of any organization that re-homes stray and abandoned animals is to have sufficient funds to build a rescue shelter specifically for the animals the organization is assisting,” said Shaw.

Tina Al Qubaisi, owner of the Dhabian Equestrian Club, has so far rescued and homed 30 cats, 15 horses, a donkey, ducks, chicken, sheep and two dogs. However her passion to help more animals does not stop there.

“We are ready to move to the next step and have all the plans in place to open an animal rescue center but require land and funding from both the government and private sponsors,” she told Gulf News, adding that to date there are no shelters available for animals to be taken in if they are removed from their owners for acts of cruelty.

Another citizen who gets out of her way to help home and save street animals is Raghad, who has been fighting to protect street cats for many years now.

“I disagree with the current process of putting down healthy street animals just because they cannot home them. That’s why I offered them a second chance at Tina’s farm. We are trying to make it better for animals, even though our hands are tied,” said the animal lover.

Despite repeated efforts, Gulf News was unable to reach the concerned animal Welfare Department at the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority regarding plans on introducing a new animal sanctuary to home the millions of stray animals in Abu Dhabi.

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