By Jennifer Bell
ABU DHABI // Animal welfare workers are appealing for funds to treat and neuter a pack of stray dogs roaming on Reem Island.
Dubbed the “Reem 19”, the dogs are being fed and watered each day by a group of volunteers. The animals remain on the streets because of waiting lists at foster homes and shelters across the emirate.
“A few weeks ago we became aware that a lady living on Reem Island was working with some labourers to help feed and water a large number of stray dogs,” said Sarah Bartlett, Animal Action UAE spokeswoman.
“She approached us about three weeks ago needing our help for one of the dogs, which was injured and needed medical treatment. We agreed to get involved and help in whatever way we could.”
With more than 40 dogs needing foster homes on its waiting list, Animal Action UAE said that while it had no spaces available it could help raise funds for a trap-neuter-release (TNR) programme to treat and spay or neuter the animals.
“Essentially, one by one, we are raising money, getting them off the site and getting them into the vet for a health check,” Ms Bartlett said.
“They will be dewormed, spayed or neutered and given flea treatment.
“We will advertise for homes but unless we have foster homes for them, then we have to release them back.”
Many of the dogs – all crossbreeds – needed medical treatment, she said.
Some have been bitten by other dogs. One animal was found bleeding with a deep wound on her right shoulder, a substantial gash in her stomach and an injured tail.
“We now know that she was stabbed,” Ms Bartlett said. “The labourers told us that they saw a man coming to their site and attacking her. They intervened and the man ran off.”
Two of the dogs have been successfully re-homed after an appeal through the animal charity’s Facebook page. Five others have been sponsored to the tune of Dh1,000 – the cost of the basic health checks and medical care.
But the charity needs more people to come forward, Ms Bartlett said, not only to help with the cost of treatment, but to volunteer in helping to feed the dogs on sites across Abu Dhabi over the summer months, or to offer one of the animals a foster or permanent home.
“There is a team that goes out about sunset because the dogs seek shade during the day. The dogs are on a routine now and actually come out at about 6pm for their dinner.”
The charity has also launched an appeal for big plastic buckets so volunteers can fill them with fresh water daily for dogs at construction sites.
“At the moment we are calling them the ‘Reem 19’, but actually the number is probably going to go up again,” Ms Bartlett said.
“We are in a race against time to get them all neutered and spayed and get them looked after and to control the population, otherwise our already-stretched collective resources will not be enough.”
Volunteer Lee-Ann Reid, a resident of Sky Tower on Reem Island, helped to start the feeding programme after hearing reports about the dogs roaming the busy roads.
The South African expatriate said while the dogs were initially shy, most were now very friendly and loved human interaction.
“They will jump all over you and lick your face,” she said. “When they see you coming with all the packets of food, they come running.”