A team of volunteers rescued more than 24 dogs and 16 cats from a villa in Fujairah following days of heavy rainfall that led to widespread flooding across the emirate.
Michele Francis, the founder of Animals and Us, was at home with her son Vernon, 27, when their property, which they share with 40 pets, was hit by major flooding.
The Indian teacher said that her house was under more than a metre of water but her main priority was to make sure that every last animal was accounted for and led to safety before she left the area.
The mother and son, with all the pets, took refuge in an upstairs bedroom of the property while they waited for volunteers to arrive and vacate the villa.
“It was a hard time for us with the immense flooding in Fujairah,” she said.
“We wanted to get the animals out but the high waters prevented that from happening.
“I had dogs and many cats inside the house. With the electricity cut and no air conditioning, we [struggled] to charge our phones and seek help.”
The non-profit organisation posted clips on its social media channels showing volunteers arriving at the villa and animals being transferred to safety in crates.
They used surfboards and paddleboards to float the animals to cars and lorries.
Access to the house was tricky with the water levels so high, but the volunteers gained access using 4X4 vehicles.
“We were finally able to make contact with Michelle, her husband and the workers in the shelter and we learnt that everyone, including the animals, were safe,” one volunteer said.
“The damages were already amassing and rescue efforts were needed to help Vernon and the animals at his place,” she said.
As a result of this setback, the shelter, which has struggled financially in the past, is now in more need of extra help than ever.
Ms Francis said they need more manpower, food vouchers and donations, with hundreds of dogs and cats still housed at the main shelter facility near her house.
“We have more than 400 dogs and nearly 100 cats that have been kept safe from the floods in the shelter, but the clean-up and repairs from the flooding have hit us hard,” she said.
“With no big corporate sponsors, or support, the shelter survives purely on donations.
“We still need to rent a long-term generator as soon as possible. We do not have electricity at one of our sites and desperately need a generator.”
Animals and Us is a non-profit, registered animal shelter and has operated in Fujairah since 2006.
Ms Francis moved from Kolkata to Fujairah in 2003 to pursue her teaching career. While in Fujairah she faced several cases of animal abuse and neglect and was unable to turn a blind eye or walk away.
She has dedicated her life to this cause. The organisation began in a residential villa in Fujairah.
In 2017, Ms Francis made the huge decision to rent an industrial unit in Fujairah and build up a shelter from scratch.
The shelter is now run by Ms Francis, five workers on site and a small number of volunteers, all of whom give their alongside full-time jobs. The shelter is home to 400 dogs and nearly 100 cats, all of which are looking for their forever homes.