Vets urge pest controllers at hand stray cats to authorities, not dump them

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Related: The long read — the UAE’s street cat epidemic

Vets have said a comprehensive programme to trap, neuter and return stray cats within the UAE is the perfect solution to safeguard the welfare of street animals.

Their comments come after concerns were raised by animal rescuers over traps being set to catch cats outside a university in Dubai.

The traps were photographed at night outside Middlesex University Dubai’s campus in Dubai Knowledge Park.

The welfare of stray cats within the UAE has long been a problem, with rescuers concerned that cats are being trapped and moved to unsuitable areas.

If it was properly co-ordinated it may very well be a beautiful community project. There are such a lot of vets with expertise, there’s no shortage of individuals willing to get entangled

Dr Martin Wyness, British Veterinary Centre

“It’s unlucky that they’re still trapping cats and so they don’t try to search out an answer,” Fawaz Kanaan, who rescues stray cats in Dubai, said after the traps were photographed on the university campus.

“It’s a spot where they’re educating people. It’d [encourage] others to do the identical. As an alternative of helping cats, they’re trapping cats.”

Cats have been trapped by or on behalf of Dubai Municipality for greater than 20 years. Official policy is that non-public corporations trapping animals must hand cats to the municipality.

Rescuers have said that some trapped cats in Dubai are euthanised in the event that they have minor illnesses, and there’s also concern that cats are released removed from their original home, and in industrial and even desert areas with little food or water.

Some private residents trap cats, particularly those which can be injured or have eye infections, before getting them treated and rehoming them, often outside the UAE.

Rachel Dey, a spokeswoman for Middlesex University Dubai, said the university was not answerable for the traps at its campus, since it is a tenant and never the owner of the “serviced constructing”.

“It’s a public area. Anyone could are available and do that,” she said. “It’s not [something] that we’d condone in any respect.”

An official trap, neuter and return (TNR, also generally known as trap, neuter and release) policy, carried out officially, is usually seen as probably the most effective way of coping with stray animals. It involves trapping and neutering street animals and returning them to their original home.

Trapping and euthanising strays is usually considered ineffective at limiting the variety of strays because other animals move into the realm to take the place of those removed.

Dr Martin Wyness, owner of the British Veterinary Centre in Abu Dhabi, said the answer to stray cat problems was “similar to we’ve been saying for the last 30 years”.

“It’s to have a widespread TNR scheme that will almost definitely should be government run,” said Dr Wyness, who has worked as a vet within the UAE since 1988.

“I’m sure vets could be willing to do these items at low price. What happens in the mean time is that individuals do the TNR in certain locales. The neighbouring cat population recolonises the bit you could have made open.”

The reply, he said, was to have a nationwide programme, the prices of which could also be lower than the sums paid to the pest-management corporations that currently trap cats.

“If it was properly co-ordinated, with individuals with goodwill, it may very well be a beautiful community project,” he said. “There are such a lot of vets with expertise, there’s no shortage of individuals willing to get entangled.”

Metal cage cat traps placed at Dubai Knowledge Park. Photo: Fawaz Kanaan

TNR programmes create a population of street animals that it’s “more stable and healthy”, in line with Prof Andrew Knight, a vet and professor of animal welfare and ethics on the University of Winchester within the UK.

“Over time there’s a slow reduction through natural attrition, however it doesn’t create a fantastic big vacuum,” he said. “TNR is way more effective in the long run, way more humane and it’s efficient.”

Simply removing animals from an area, either to euthanise or relocate them, is just not cost-effective, Prof Knight said, because numbers returned to their original level over time.

Dubai Municipality produced a booklet, titled Stray Cats: Health Risks and Methods of Control, to coincide with Expo 2020 Dubai.

It said to limit the variety of stray cats there was a TNR programme within the emirate enacted by the Veterinary Services Section of the municipality’s Public Health Department.

The booklet stated that sick cats for which “recovery is hopeless” were euthanised, while remaining cats that weren’t collected by an owner after being trapped were “returned on the following day to their areas”.

The municipality has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Mr Kanaan takes care of stray cats in Al Quoz, and said animals often disappeared, presumably after being trapped. At the identical time, other cats that appear to be former pets arrive in the realm.

“I’m pondering that they’re trapping in a single area and releasing in one other area,” he said. “They’re just moving the issue from one place to a different. These cats usually are not spayed [neutered].”

Tecom Group, the owner of Dubai Knowledge Park, didn’t reply to a request for comment.

Updated: May 08, 2022, 7:54 AM

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