A busy dog shelter in Ajman has been forced to close because of a lack of resources.
The owner of Furrballs said low staffing levels and the loss of a credit arrangement with a local vet were to blame for the closure.
Owner Sara Al Zaki said the closure could not have come at a worse time, with the number of dogs being abandoned increasing all the time.
“We were not able to get funded as a charity so we can’t ask for donations,” said the Emirati, 29.
“That makes things very hard for us. If we don’t get the fees from getting dogs adopted then we have no other way of making income.
“Not every dog finds a home and in some cases, it can take months or even years before someone comes along and adopts them.”
Ms Al Zaki said the shelter would remain open until the 24 dogs currently there find new homes.
However, once they are rehomed she said she will have to close up.
“We don’t have the means to hire people and we cannot rely on volunteers because rescuing is essentially a full-time job,” she said.
“It’s not an easy task and can often be emotional and stressful, requiring someone to be available at all hours of the day.”
She said the shelter previously had an arrangement with a vet who would be flexible about payment, allowing the team at Furrballs to bring animals in for treatment without having to worry about paying the bill immediately.
However, this arrangement came to an end at the new year, removing a vital lifeline for the shelter.
“We have accounts with other vets but unfortunately we have to pay those on the spot, which isn’t always possible,” Ms Al Zaki said.
“We don’t have the money and it isn’t right to take dogs in if we can’t make sure they get access to the treatment they need.
“It’s not fair on the dogs for them to suffer because we can’t provide for them.”
Most dogs looked after by Furrballs are left there by owners who are no longer able to look after them, she said.
“There are immense amounts of animals that are being dumped by their families because they can no longer afford to look after them, and there are also stray dogs that are being abused.
"I would say about 80 per cent of the dogs we get are surrendered by their families.
“It can be down to a number of factors but the most common are due to no longer being able to cover the costs, families relocating or in some cases they are having a baby and there’s no room for the dog anymore.”
Abandoning pets became punishable by law in 2018, with any act deemed to be animal cruelty carrying a possible jail sentence.
Ms Al Zaki said the closure of Furrballs would have a detrimental effect on other animal shelters.
“Us closing is going to put stress on the other rescue organisations and shelters as the need is so huge,” she said.
“The numbers are only going up and up as well. This is a massive problem.”