The UAE’s largest private dog rescue shelter has been saved from eviction after the local government stepped in to help.
Representatives of the Stray Dogs Centre in Umm Al Quwain, which houses more than 870 dogs, four donkeys and 15 cats, were relieved to receive the good news.
Amirah William, founder of the Stray Dogs Centre, on Friday made an emotional appeal on Facebook to save the centre, which opened in 2013.
She said they were given two weeks' notice to leave.
“After the initial shock, the next thing was what are we going to do, because it's impossible for us to just pick up and move the shelter in two weeks,” Ms William said in the video she shared on social media.
“Our first shelter opened in 2013 in a villa housing 150 dogs, and in a few months we received an eviction notice from the municipality.”
But in 2014, the centre relocated to a new building on a plot granted by the Ruler of Umm Al Quwain who called off the eviction at that time.
“Millions of dirhams in public support built the current shelter and enabled it to operate,” the founder said.
“When we first came here it was just desert, there was absolutely nothing so we went about devising a plan and looked at what needed to be done and gained support to start levelling the land."
She said many volunteers helped to build the foundation of the shelter that later struck an agreement to care for dogs captured by the municipality.
"We also rescue critical cases and emergency cases from other emirates and in just one year we received 380 dogs from the municipality."
In her appeal, Ms William had said she did not know what the centre would do.
"I carry the burden of all the animals that we have saved on my back," she said.
But only hours after posting the appeal, she wrote on the centre's Facebook page that she received a call from the municipality's director general to say the eviction had been called off again.
Ms William said she was told the centre is safe now and in the future.
“It has been such a heavy burden to carry this past two weeks and I am relieved that the burden has now been lifted," she said.
"Thank you to the Umm Al Quwain Municipality and the [ruling family] for recognising and validating the work that Stray Dogs Centre does in the community.”
The centre, which has a "no kill" policy, was established by a group of residents concerned about the welfare of stray dogs in Umm Al Quwain.
It has rescued thousands of dogs, of which many have been placed in new homes.