SHARJAH // Animal lovers have vented anger and frustration at the conditions in which hundreds of dogs, cats and birds, as well as more exotic creatures such as ostriches and skunks, are kept at a market in Sharjah.
Animals in small cages often stacked on top of each other, with no air conditioning and a lack of proper hygiene that makes for a foul smell are among the complaints raised by visitors to the Sharjah animal market in Al Jubeil.
“You see a lot of types of animals being sold there,” said Dominic Pottek. “In my last visit I saw raccoons, spiders, scorpions and skunks to name a few. I even saw an ostrich with her neck looped from the small cage it was in.
“Some of the shops have air conditioning units and some don’t. The animals are kept in tiny cages. It’s just awful.”
Despite the poor conditions, the market on Corniche Street is busy with people, particularly on Fridays when the dozens of stores that line its long corridors do a brisk trade.
Shocked at what he saw, Mr Pottek posted a photograph online of kittens for sale and discovered they were stolen.
“I was able to reunite them with their owners.”
The 29-year-old airline employee, who lives in Dubai, urged Sharjah Municipality and police to conduct regular inspections of the market to make sure the animals are cared for and kept in safe, clean conditions.
Officials from Sharjah Municipality were not available for comment.
Natasha Parvaresh said many of the animals on sale appear to have been abandoned by their owners.
“I saw a large number of cats that had been dumped. The cats had mated with strays and the shopowners were selling the kittens with good qualities,” said the 27-year-old Ajman resident. A Pakistani worker at a pet shop in the market said that, on occasion, they do find pure-bred cats dumped nearby.
“We take them in and breed them with other kinds, once the female gives birth we take the kittens and put them up for sale.”
Amira Juma visited the market and was shocked by the conditions.
“I went there to buy a kitten,” said the 24-year old from Sharjah. “Once inside I couldn’t handle the bad smell and the sights of the animals locked up in cages.”