MUSCAT, Dec 25 – Come nights and they are on the prowl. Cats and dogs have earned notoriety in some parts of Ruwi, giving nightmares to the residents. And the calls to curb the menace are growing louder. The problem is worse near wadis and mountains. Despite the efforts of the civic body to trap, neuter and release stray cats and dogs, they continue to roam the streets, terrifying residents. A homemaker living near a wadi in Ruwi said stray cats and dogs were a menace. “They keep barking all night, ransacking garbage.”
Children are afraid to step out of homes after dark, she said.
These animals have been venturing into the streets in residential areas and disturbing peace through their constant barkings.
Walkers are the worst affected. “I go for walk every day near CBD and MBD and I see dogs barking at the joggers,” said George, a public relations executive.
Dr Lamia bint Hussein al Balushiyah, Ministry of Health (MoH), admitted the number of people injured by dogs and cats in the last three years had risen.
“Attacks from such animals also have a psychological impact, including panic, which can last for a long time.”
The Committee on Health, Social and Environmental Affairs, under the MoH, recently examined ways to deal with stray animals.
Awareness programmes were recommended for dealing with animals, educating animal-breeders on the seriousness of diseases spread through animals and how to prevent them. These programmes will teach them how to interact with animals and what to do when they show signs of aggression.
Dr Mohammed, a veterinary doctor with the Capital Veterinary Centre, suggested the TNR, or ‘Trap, Neuter and Release’ programme to curb the menace of stray animals.
Adoption was another method he recommended.
“There have been discussions on possible solutions to deal with stray dogs, the most important of which is reproductive control and the establishment of animal shelters as per global standards,” he said.
Another problem is the number of stray animals rise when expatriates leave the country for good. The abandoned pets end up on streets.
“We are always on alert to find a solution to the problem of stray dogs in coordination with the authorities. We are fully prepared to provide necessary support in this regard,” said Major Bader bin Hamoud al Sharji, Assistant Director of Muscat Operations, Royal Oman Police (ROP).