An animal charity has been forced to halt rescues by the pressure of mounting vet and boarding bills.
Animal Action UAE, which is registered under the umbrella of Emirates Animal Welfare society, owes about Dh100,000 to veterinary clinics and kennels.
The organisation assists 200 to 300 animals each year that are either neglected, abused, given up or simply found on the streets.
On Thursday, volunteers said they were trying to find homes for about 80 animals – 20 of which are being housed in boarding in kennels at a cost of Dh1,200 a day.
"It's mainly dogs we rescue but we do deal with cats as well," said Sarita Harding, a Briton who is one of eight regular volunteers out of the group of 40 who commit their time and money to the charity.
"We are at the stage where we have too many animals.
“Of course we can’t just chuck them out on the streets to survive on their own.”
The charity owes money to the Australian Veterinary Hospital in Abu Dhabi, Lucky Veterinary Clinic in Dubai, and boarding kennels Paw Parking in Dubai and Homely Petz in Ras Al Khaimah.
The situation became so serious last week that the group was forced to post a message on its Facebook page to confirm that it is closed for rescues for the foreseeable future.
“I work full-time and donate money each month to help clear off our debt,” said Ms Harding.
“We can’t rescue any more at the moment until we get the bills down to a more manageable level.”
Rescuing one dog or cat can incur huge costs as stray animals often need treatment for illness or injuries, in addition to vaccinations and spaying or neutering.
The charity asks those wanting to adopt for a fee of Dh1,400 for dogs and Dh750 for cats. The sum does not cover all of the vaccinations and treatment the animals require.
Ms Harding said the charity was in the midst of planning a series of fundraising events, such as a ball and a Christmas bazaar in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
It is also devising initiatives to encourage more foster families to take on animals for longer, until permanent homes can be found for them.
“We don’t have enough foster homes,” said Ms Harding, who always has two or three foster dogs she looks after.
“We rely very much on foster families and getting them adopted and finding them forever homes.
“Some of the plans are to run things like adopt a dog for Christmas.”
The charity also operates a daily feeding programme for street animals.
One of the colonies has around 40 dogs alone, so Animal Action UAE is seeking food donations to help them. It aims to roll out a trap, neuter and release programme at the sites to try and control the populations.
"Given the numbers, we cannot bring them in and it's a vicious cycle," said Ms Harding. "We are even looking for sponsorship to trap, neuter and release."
But the charity’s bills are now a serious concern.
“Even if someone just donated Dh10, that’s something,” Ms Harding said.
"We would like people to donate directly to the vets, so if they contacted us directly on our Facebook page or on email@example.com we can give them the details."
Animal Action UAE is holding an adoption day this Friday from noon to 4pm at Paw Parking, Warehouse 5, Street 26, Al Quoz 4.