UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – A viral video of an Emirati teenager throwing a cat against a wall before just leaving it to die has provoked outrage among animal welfare workers and social media users.
The video of the 17-year-old, whose name is Mohammed, has been viewed and shared countless times since the incident in Ajman last month, with many people voicing their disgust.
A taxi driver who happened to witness the brutal scene said Mohammed was laughing with his friend, who shot the video, afterward.
The posted video provoked so much rage that animal lovers raised a $2,800 reward for anyone who can identify the boy in the video so he could be punished. Police are currently looking at the incident, in which the cat is believed to have died.
Mohammed himself has also filed a complaint against the woman he thinks first posted the video online.
The Pakistani taxi driver, whose car is clearly visible in the video, stated the teenager was a regular customer.
“What Mohammed did was horrible and I did not expect him to do that,” stated Abidhussan, who would only give his first name. “He has no heart and he is not a human.”
The driver said the incident happened about a month ago, when he went to Al Rashidiya in Ajman, to pick Mohammed and his friend up at a massage center.
“He saw a cat, held it and took a selfie picture with it, then he held its tail and threw it at the wall,” the driver stated.
“Some people in the area saw what he did but no one did anything at that moment or talked to him.
“I took water from my car and put it on the cat. It was bleeding from the nose and mouth.
“They rode the cab and were both laughing too much. I told Mohammed, ‘Why you did that? You are not a human and you have no heart and no mind. If the cat dies, God will punish you’. He replied, ‘No problem, never mind’. I did not see him feeling sorry for what he did.”
Afra Al Dhaheri, who is the Emirati owner of Cloud 9 Pet Hotel in Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi, runs live broadcasts on social media to educate others about animal welfare.
“After watching the video, I couldn’t sleep. I was full of anger and wanted to find out who this person was,” she stated.
“People had gathered a Dh10,000 reward on Facebook for information, so it was pretty easy for the police to follow up. It shows how angry people are. I had not seen anything like this before.
“Police need to take action and this person needs to be in jail.”
Although shocking, animal welfare workers claim this is not an isolated incident and are encouraging anyone witnessing similar abuse to report it to police immediately.
“This is a horrific case of an intentional, barbaric killing,” stated Dr Susan Aylott, a British vet working with Animal Welfare Abu Dhabi.
“We would like to get across to the public that animal abuse is both a crime against society and religion.
“The public have a duty to report such crimes.”
Such abuse is punishable by police under Article 431 of Federal Law number 16, with penalties of up to a year in prison or a fine.
The AWAD group is now putting together leaflets on how to report animal abuse.
“There is evidence linking animal abuse and increased the likelihood of violent offending behavior towards individuals,” Dr. Aylott went on to add.
“It is well established in the US and UK that these links pose a real threat to society and need to be addressed here. The link to harming children is especially heinous.”
Research in the UK suggests animal abuse by children is very widespread. In a minority of more extreme cases, it appears to be associated with abuse of the child committing the act, or subsequent abusive behavior by the child.
Mira Al Suwaidi is a 20-year-old Emirati veterinary student at the UAE University in Al Ain and has established the Rifq Society, a group which is set up to help people report animal abuse cases.
“If these incidents are not reported and followed up on, people will think they can get away with it,” she said. “It is up to people to take responsibility, and educate their children about the rights of animals.”