Mystery Surrounds Abandonment of 140 Cats in Abu Dhabi Desert, Prompting Outrage and Investigations

ABU DHABI, UAE – In a shocking incident that has sparked outrage from international animal rights organizations and triggered an official government investigation, a group of concerned United Arab Emirates residents stumbled upon over 140 cats abandoned in a barren desert lot near the capital, Abu Dhabi.

Cats of various breeds, including non-native Persians, were found left to fend for themselves in dire conditions. Some were trapped in carriers, while others roamed the desolate landscape without access to food, shelter, or water. Chiku Shergill, a resident of Abu Dhabi who joined the rescue mission, recounted the grim discovery.

The forsaken felines were discovered across the highway from the government-operated Abu Dhabi Animal Shelter in al Falah, a residential area in the city. The shelter, when approached for comment, claimed to be unaware of the incident and declined further statements.

Rescuers have tallied a heartbreaking 50 deceased cats in the lot, while they managed to save 95 of the animals since the distressing find on September 28. Additionally, a golden retriever was rescued, but tragically, a husky was found lifeless. Some of the cats had microchips, indicating that they likely were not strays.

The relentless heat of the Abu Dhabi desert, where temperatures in September can soar to as high as 40.5°C (105°F), makes this abandonment even more appalling. International animal rights organizations and activists have expressed their vehement condemnation of this heart-wrenching episode.

"People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)," a prominent animal rights organization, has offered a substantial $5,000 reward for information leading to the identification of those responsible for "dumping these cats in the desert," as stated by Jason Baker, Vice-President of PETA Asia in a statement to CNN.

Baker stressed the importance of addressing the homeless-animal crisis through spaying, neutering, and adopting from shelters that are often overburdened and understaffed, an approach that PETA Asia has been advocating in the UAE for years.

Abu Dhabi's Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT) has taken note of the severity of the situation and announced a thorough investigation into the incident. The DMT has urged the public to provide any pertinent information and is actively pursuing those accountable for this distressing act.

Dr. Katherine Polak, Vice President of Companion Animals at Humane Society International, expressed satisfaction with the authorities' commitment to addressing the issue, as reported by CNN.

A dedicated volunteer rescue team has been tirelessly working around the clock, with many taking time off from their regular jobs to save the abandoned cats, provide them with microchips, and find them loving homes, according to Shergill.

Remarkably, ten pet cats from Dubai, situated just an hour's drive from Abu Dhabi, were identified through microchips and subsequently reunited with their homes.

In 2008, Abu Dhabi initiated a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program to manage feral and stray cat populations, primarily through the Abu Dhabi Animal Shelter. The program claims to adhere to "international animal welfare guidelines" and focuses on releasing trapped animals back to their original locations.

The distressing abandonment of cats in desert "dumping sites" is unfortunately not an isolated incident, as reported by the International Organization for Animal Protection (OIPA) in a statement. OIPA has been campaigning for the welfare of stray animals in the UAE for several years, shedding light on the pervasive nature of the issue in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.