An animal refuge in Fujairah is unable to take in any more cats or dogs following a sharp increase in abandoned pets and strays.
The owner of Animals and Us told The National she had never seen it as busy in almost two decades of running the non-profit animal welfare group.
She also urged people to show more consideration for animals instead of abandoning them.
“I have never seen such a high amount of dogs and cats being abandoned as over the last year,” said Michelle Francis, the Indian teacher who runs the refuge.
“It’s never been so bad in the 18 years I have been running the shelter.”
She said she would be more than happy to take in the animals but had to be realistic about the numbers they could care for.
“We have 220 dogs in the shelter, as well as another 300 out to foster families,” she said.
“It costs about Dh13 to feed each dog daily. I am having to pay that money out of my own salary.
“We also have 23 cats that it costs about Dh1,500 to feed each month.”
Shelter struggles to cope with demand
She said the shelter faced a continuing struggle to meet costs and keep its head above water.
“Every time we take in a new animal there is a good chance they are sick and we need to take them to the vet straightaway,” said Ms Francis.
“That usually costs at least Dh5,000 to Dh6,000 each time and that does not include the further cost of getting vaccinated and chipped.”
She founded Animals and Us in Fujairah almost two decades ago and ran the shelter with her husband until 2015.
“My husband and I did everything ourselves at the start but then when the number of dogs became bigger we couldn’t do it all by ourselves,” she said.
“We reached out to the community and now we have a team of seven volunteers who help us too.”
However, even with the help of the volunteers she said the challenges were continuing to mount.
“For every dog that gets sent out to a foster home we are being asked to take in another seven,” she said.
“It’s a difficult situation to say the very least.”
While the shelter takes in many strays, the vast majority of those brought in are abandoned pets.
“We need more people to help us,” said Ms Francis.
Another problem was that people were not always clued up when buying pets and did not realise what was involved in caring for animals.
“If more people educated themselves about animal welfare then we would not have so many dogs being abandoned,” she said.
The Covid-19 pandemic has also played a factor in animal welfare, as in many other sectors.
However, she said the pandemic brought out both the worst and the best of people.
“We picked up a lot more abandoned dogs during that time,” she said.
“But we also noticed a significant increase in the number of people who were willing to act as foster families for the dogs.
“It has had its positives and negatives but I will say we had so many people coming forward to help.”