UMM AL QUWAIN // Three months after 10 donkeys in its care were shot dead by unknown gunmen, staff at an animal rescue shelter now have a plot of land to create a safe haven for hundreds of abused and abandoned cats, dogs and goats.
The Animal Welfare Project in UAQ, founded and run by Dr Louise Mitchell, from the UK, and Barbara Carstens, from Germany, has been gifted 90,000 square metres of land by Sheikh Saud bin Rashid Al Mualla, the emirate’s ruler.
“We knew the Sheikh had granted the land three months ago, but everything then had to go to official departments,” Dr Mitchell said.
“Now we need to construct perimeter fences and this could take up to 15 weeks while we raise money, then we can start to transfer the animals.”
The area of land in the UAQ desert can accommodate hundreds of animals.
For now, the animals are being looked after in the women’s homes, at veterinary clinics or in kennels.
In March this year, the donkeys as well as a dog were shot and killed. The carcasses were taken away to be used, it was suspected, as meat for an illegal tiger farm.
The incident prompted Dr Mitchell and Ms Carstens to approach authorities for help.
“We described the kind of terrain we needed and gave the reason. The municipality then chose the area, which was actually the one we had in mind. It is simply perfect for the purpose, lots of shade from trees, huge vast areas of dunes for the dogs and lots of even areas for other animals,” Dr Mitchell said.
As well as caring for rescued animals, the project also supports local farmers by providing food for camels, cows and sheep as well as offering vaccines and neutering animals in its care.
“Our priority is to get these poor animals into an environment where we can give them their basic needs, such as food, water and health, end any suffering endured and give them the home they have never had,” Dr Mitchell said.
“This is why we cannot thank the municipality and UAQ’s ruler enough for their wonderful support and dedication in making a difference to these animals. The authorities, including police, are really trying with new initiatives to support animal welfare.”
Ghanem Ali, head of the public health and environment department at UAQ Municipality, said the planning department identified a safe site that was suitable to keep so many animals.
“We chose a safe place for the animals as [the ladies] requested because they want the animals to feel as though they are in their natural homeland where there are trees and far away from streets so they can’t run into roads and cars.”
Sarah Bartlett, spokesperson for Animal Action UAE, said it was “wonderful to see the ruling family of Umm Al Quwain supporting the work of a fellow animal rescue organisation”.
“We salute their compassion and their leadership in this area. We hope to see other emirates follow their pioneering lead in helping other volunteer organisations to establish centres that will ensure more secure futures for the many thousands of homeless and desperate animals across the UAE.”