Pet rescue: Dubai vets offer free and discounted services for strays injured in storms

Some clinics remained closed on Thursday but others are waiving or reducing fees to help vulnerable animals

Vet Dina Elgamal said the storms in Dubai have affected animals, especially cats, as many are afraid of water. Photo: Dr Dina Elgamal
Powered by automated translation

UAE weather live: Emirates hit by severe storms

Veterinary clinics in Dubai are offering free and discounted services to animal-lovers who bring in strays injured during the severe storms that have battered the UAE this week.

Many clinics remained closed on Thursday due to flood damage and road closures, but others opened with skeleton staff to care for the country’s most vulnerable animals.

Camelia O’Hara, co-founder of Mike’s Veterinary Clinic in Al Barsha, is offering free consultations for stray cats hurt during the storm. The clinic posted the offer on social media on Wednesday and soon had four appointments lined up for Thursday afternoon.

“We’ll always have a sensitive spot for rescuers,” said Ms O’Hara, who spent years rescuing animals with her husband Mike before giving up her job to open the clinic with him last year.

“It’s a humane thing to do at this point, to just help … It’s leaving the financial gains on the side for a little bit and focusing on the bigger picture.”

On Tuesday morning, before the worst storms hit, an Emirati couple in brought two soaked kittens who had been stranded in water for hours.

“They were so cold, so we warmed them up, fed them, provided them with kitten milk and sent them home,” said Ms O’Hara.

“We haven’t charged them a dirham. This is who we are, this is the fabric of us as a vet.”

From Friday, Pet First Veterinary Clinic, on Hessa Street, will offer a 50 per cent discount on consultations for clients who have rescued animals. They also offer teleconsultations for clients unable to bring in their pets.

“We have only just opened again,” operations manager Rico Alanan told The National. “We have had skeleton staff as we have stray cats here right now and a dog in critical condition that needs 24-hour supervision.

Watch: Police help avert catastrophe

“Luckily we were able to keep the water from coming in so our clinic is safe, but our neighbour [a chocolate shop] is greatly affected.”

Dr Dina Elgamal, a vet who offers home visits, has had people calling her from across Dubai all day, but she could not reach them from her home in Remraam due to road closures.

“Animals will be very affected by the water, especially cats, as many are afraid of water,” said Dr Elgamal, who is known in the community for offering discounted rates and free services to clients and rescuers.

UAE lashed by record rainfall – in pictures

“I tried to reach two clients in Remraam, I managed to fix one cat [that was] vomiting yesterday and put an IV in her for her. She’s doing well now, she’s eating, but the other clients I can’t [reach],” she added.

“I have had six clients call me from Mudon. One cat was stuck in the water with its tail under the wheels of a car. My client managed to move it and take it home, so I told them on the phone to put a cone on the cat.

“Anyone calling me for any case, I try to help them on the phone [using] what they have at home. We can’t even get to the medicine.”

Dubai Hills Estate resident Anandi Spliethoff is a regular client of Dr Elgamal's and is waiting to get a kitten she rescued on Wednesday in for surgery to save his paw.

“I don’t know how much it’ll cost yet, she needs to check for infection first. She will try her best to save the leg, but there’s a high chance we’ll need to amputate.”

Ms Spliethoff, who regularly rescues cats, said she expects it will cost at least a couple of thousand dirhams, even though Dr Elgamal will offer her services for free. “He might need to stay over at the clinic, get medication, we just don’t know yet.”

If someone finds an injured animal, they should take them to the vet despite the potential costs, said Ms Spliethoff. “There are a lot of people in the community groups if you cannot pay the bills who will jump in and help,” she said.

A parasitic disease called giardia will increase among dogs and cats following the rain, Ms O'Hara added.

“In case you see symptoms like runny tummy or throwing up, get the animal to a vet immediately for a quick giardia test. It's non-invasive and takes about five minutes.”

Ms O'Hara is happy to help anyone and will bring supplies, she said. The clinic has a free kit, which includes food, bowls, litter, a litter tray and a blanket.

“It’s for anyone who wants to save a cat and doesn’t know what to do. It has [enough supplies] for 14 days, as you keep cats in the bathroom to see if they have any diseases.

“We then give a full consultation for free, which includes cleaning, dental, eyes, ears, to make sure we smoothe the journey for anyone who wants to potentially foster.

“Even if you don’t have the means to adopt an animal, if you need something from us, I will personally drop accessories to someone who wants to foster a cat from the rain in the coming weeks.

“We’re just trying to bridge the gap for individuals who want to help but don’t know how to, and the animals in distress who could have a complete turnaround with a bit of love and care.”

Updated: April 18, 2024, 1:20 PM