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Abu Dhabi Stray Cat Program Boosts Animal Welfare

Photo: Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Abu Dhabi has launched a new and promising animal welfare program aimed at addressing the needs of thousands of stray cats roaming the desert areas of the city. The initiative comes in response to an investigation by Abu Dhabi's Department of Municipalities and Transport, triggered by the dumping of over 150 cats in Al Falah in October.

The Community Animal Care Programme is a proactive response to this issue, and it urges volunteers to participate in managing feeding stations strategically placed across the emirate. The program has garnered financial support from Ma’an, the authority for social contribution in the capital, emphasizing its commitment to community and volunteer-focused initiatives.

The program's origins trace back to the coordinated efforts of volunteers, including individuals like David Appleby, who played a crucial role in rescuing cats in Al Falah. Appleby, the founder of the pet tracking site microchipped.ae, expresses hope that this program can extend beyond Abu Dhabi and become a model for animal welfare initiatives throughout the UAE.

Volunteers and veterinarians estimate a substantial population of tens of thousands of community cats freely roaming Abu Dhabi. The focus areas for the Community Animal Care Programme include Al Rawdah, Khalifa City, Bahia and Mafraq, Al Raha, Rabdan and Abu Dhabi Gate City, Mina Zayed, and Al Reem.

The three-phase approach of trap, neuter, and return (TNR) forms the core strategy of the program, complemented by educational workshops and pet adoption days. Volunteers can register through the official government online portal or the mobile app.

This four-month program, operational since December 2023, is facilitated by Microchipped FZ and falls under Ma'an's Community Volunteering Activation Programme (CVAP). Aligned with the 'We Volunteer' initiative, the project aligns with Ma'an's mission to foster an engaged and collaborative community in Abu Dhabi.

Two non-profit websites, microchipped.ae and foodtostrays.ae, are already operational to aid pet owners in tracking their animals and facilitating food contributions to feeding stations. Additionally, David Appleby and his wife Jacqueline plan to establish the Animal Respite Centre, focusing on the treatment and rehabilitation of sick and stray animals.

Dr. Rachel Shaw, CEO of Animal Welfare Abu Dhabi, acknowledges the positive impact of community-driven projects like the Ma'an-funded animal care program. However, she highlights the financial strain on private donors and the need for additional support, proposing a hardship fund for strays and government-funded vet clinics for community animals.

The initiative aligns with the UAE National Invasive Species Strategy and Action Plan 2022-2026, emphasizing the humane trap, neuter, and return approach for managing the population of stray cats. Dr. Shaw underscores the willingness of the Abu Dhabi community to contribute time and effort for animal welfare but emphasizes the importance of financial support to sustain these vital initiatives.

 

Feb. 15, 2024 5:48 p.m. 1667

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