I hate the summer ... and not because the weather is so hot

The surge in abandoned pets at this time of year is something Rym Ghazal finds sickening.

I hate the summer, not because of the extreme heat, but because of what happens to many pets in the UAE at this time of year.

Consider Pinky, a year-old Arabian Mau, Fluffy, a five-year-old grey Persian, and Tim, a seven-year-old Labrador. These three victims hail from different homes across the UAE and were recently dumped at a shelter.

Meowing, wailing, whimpering and scratching at the cages, they were confused and anxious. They just wanted to go back home.

They were “loved once”, but then their owners had other priorities. It was a holiday for one of them, who “couldn’t afford to board the pet” yet somehow could afford to travel to London. Another owner relocated and hadn’t saved up money for the pet transfer and the third owner simply “lost interest” in their pet. Whatever the excuse, and usually, I think, driven by some sense of guilt, such people often ramble on and on about the reasons that drove them to abandon their pets. While some try to find their pets new homes, Pinky, Fluffy and Tim weren’t so lucky and their owners suggested “putting them down”.

“It is better that way,” one of them said, as she left the shelter. I cringe whenever I hear people say it is the more “merciful” way.

I dare each of those owners who dumped the pets to be there as their pet is put down and watch these animals fight for their lives in the “death room”.

As several vets would confirm to you, some don’t just go to sleep, especially if they are perfectly healthy. They are more likely to be alert and to panic. Sometimes they will spasm for a while, gasp for air, and some even defecate on themselves as they die.

People don’t bother to even think about what happens to the corpse. Is it buried, cremated or dumped on a pile of other dead animals? The latter option is often the reality of what happens. Perhaps if more pet owners were aware of this, they would think twice before dumping their pets at a clinic or shelter.

As an animal activist, I was fuming when a friend working at a shelter told me of these latest dumped cases.

In a recent article, the Sharjah Shelter management said they put down 10 cats and 10 dogs per day.

They are at full capacity and more pets are being dumped daily. When the shelter is full and the pet is not adopted within 72 hours, it gets put down.

Before you blame the shelters, perhaps you should blame yourself for not bothering to go to a shelter to adopt a pet. There are amazing animals at shelters and with animal welfare groups and yes, some of those “luxury” breeds can also be found as they get dumped as well.

This happens every summer break. Those within the animal rescue and care circles even mark this time of year as the “summer of death” because so many animals get dumped, mostly on the streets, leaving the poor creatures to fend for themselves in hot, harsh weather.

Regularly, I find some cat wailing and crying outside its former home, waiting to be let back in. Some stay there until they completely deteriorate and die. It is horrible and cruel.

“Shoo, shoo, we don’t want you anymore!” you would hear as they throw something at this confused former pet. Often, once the kitten becomes an adult cat, it gets dumped as it is “not cute anymore”.

Trying to tell someone that pets are part of a family often results in a backlash as they view them differently, as an entertainment or accessory, to be bought, bred and sold.

It needs to start at childhood, at homes and at schools, where kindness to animals and birds must be instilled as an important value. For instance, in Islam, mercy towards animals is very important and your treatment of them can define your end, you can enter heaven or hell based on your behaviour. So take care of your pets.

Perhaps, as a gesture of mercy this summer, leave a bowl of clean water outside your home or office. It will take a few seconds, but could mean the difference between life and death for a passing creature.

rghazal@thenational.ae

Twitter:@Arabianmau

Published: May 28, 2014 04:00 AM

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