7.35 PM Saturday, 2 December 2023
  • City Fajr Shuruq Duhr Asr Magrib Isha
  • Dubai 05:26 06:44 12:11 15:09 17:32 18:50
02 December 2023

We euthanize 10 cats and 10 dogs per day: Sharjah shelter

By Majorie van Leijen

“They all do not just ‘go to sleep’ – sometimes, they spasm for a while, gasp for air and defecate on themselves.  When it all ends, your pet’s corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer in the back, with all of the other animals that were killed, waiting to be picked up like garbage.

“What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? You’ll never know, and it probably won’t even cross your mind. It was just an animal, and you can always buy another one, right?”

These are some of the lines written by Emma Smith, Shelter Manager at the Sharjah Cats and Dogs Shelter (Scads). @It is a bit harsh, but it is the truth,” she says.

Scads is a shelter for homeless cats and dogs in the emirate. Unfortunately, the number of homeless pets is unmanageable and increasing by the day. The reason: pet owners do not consider the responsibilities that come with owning a pet, and find reasons of all sorts to get rid of them.

There is no shortage of excuses, says Emma. The most common excuses: ‘we are moving and we can’t take our dog or cat’, ‘the dog got bigger than we thought it would’, ‘we don't have time for her’ or ‘she's tearing up our yard’.

“People always tell me: ‘We just do not want to have to stress about finding a place for her. We know she'll get adopted – she is a good dog/cat’.”

However, the chances that a pet does get adopted are reduced to a bare minimum. “There is about a 90% chance that the dog or cat will never walk out of the shelter, purebred or not,” Emma says.

Instead, the abandoned cat or dog has a high chance of being killed, as there is simply not enough space at the shelter. When the shelter is full and the pet is not adopted within 72 hours, it will be euthanized. If there is space for the animal, it is given 60 days to find a new home. If new owners are not found, it is sent to the ‘death room’ regardless.

“First, your pet will be taken from its kennel or room on a leash or carried if a cat. They always look like they think they are going for a walk – happy, wagging their tails. That is, until they get to ‘the Room’.”

“Every one of them freaks out and puts on the breaks when we get to the door. It must smell like death, or maybe they can feel the sad souls that are left in there. It is strange, but it happens with every one of them.

“Your dog or cat will be restrained, held down by 1 or 2 vet techs (depending on their size and how freaked out they are). A euthanasia tech or a vet will start the process. They find a vein in the front leg and inject a lethal dose of the ‘pink stuff’. Hopefully your pet does not panic from being restrained and jerk its leg. I have seen the needles tear out of a leg, I have been covered with the resulting blood and deafened by the yelps and screams.”

Hopeless as the situation seems, staff at Scads are always on the outlook for new owners for the pets. As such, it annually visits the Canadian University of Dubai (CAD) to showcase some of the cats and dogs for a day.

Recently, eight previously unwanted pets were adopted as a result of the visit to the university and many students took to social media to highlight the problems facing abandoned animals in the country each year.

 “To have the best chance, the animals need to be in front of prospective owners, so it is great that the CAD lets us use their facility as that invariably leads to some of them being adopted,” said Emma.

"We also hold weekly adoption days, which will be taking place at Pet Oasis from now on. Further, we are open from 8am to 2pm Sunday to Thursday, and 9.30am to 12.30pm on Fridays. However, the Pet Show is cancelled this year, which is a great miss. We usually find quite a few new pet owners at the show."

However, an important message should be out to the public, which could prevent the saddening death of so many pets rather than cure it. Emma said: "We euthanize on average 10 dogs and 10 cats per day at the shelter. Only you can stop it. I do my best to save every life I can but rescues are always full, and there are more animals coming in everyday than there are homes. My point to all of this is ‘do not breed or buy while shelter pets die’.

"I hope that those of you that have read this are bawling your eyes out and cannot get the pictures out of your head. That happens to me every day on the way home from work. I hate my job, I hate that it exists and I hate that it will always be there unless people make some changes and realise that the lives you are affecting go much farther than the pets you dump at a shelter."