The discovery of 140 cats abandoned in the desert of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, has prompted outrage from global animal rights organizations and led to a government inquiry.
These abandoned cats, including various breeds and non-native Persians, were found trapped inside carriers or wandering in the barren desert without sustenance, shelter, or water.
The cats were abandoned near the government-managed Abu Dhabi Animal Shelter in the residential area of al Falah, and the shelter claimed ignorance of the situation.
Rescue efforts have so far saved 95 cats since September 28, while 50 cats were found dead at the site. A golden retriever was successfully rescued, but a husky tragically perished.
Some of the abandoned animals had microchips, suggesting they were not strays.
The act of cruelty is exacerbated by the harsh September temperatures in Abu Dhabi, which can reach as high as 40.5°C (105°F). International animal rights organizations and activists have strongly condemned this heartless abandonment.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the identification of those responsible.
PETA Asia Vice-President Jason Baker called for a solution to the homeless animal crisis, advocating for spaying and neutering and promoting adoptions from overworked and understaffed shelters.
The Abu Dhabi Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT) has initiated an investigation into the incident, urging the public to provide relevant information and vowing to hold the culprits accountable.
Dr. Katherine Polak, Vice President of Companion Animals at Humane Society International, commended the authorities for taking the matter seriously.
Dedicated volunteers have been working tirelessly to rescue the abandoned cats, provide them with microchips, and find them loving homes. Ten pet cats from Dubai were identified through microchips and reunited with their families.
While Abu Dhabi launched a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program in 2008 to manage feral and stray cats, the presence of “dumping sites” for animals remains a concerning issue. The International Organization for Animal Protection (OIPA) highlighted that such incidents are not isolated, with widespread abandonment occurring in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. OIPA has been campaigning for a more humane approach to managing stray animals in the UAE for years.