In a gruesome and disturbing video that recently went viral, an Emirati man is seen feeding a helpless cat to two starving dogs. But thankfully, this will not be another case of animal cruelty that simply goes unpunished.
The offender, along with two Asian men who recorded the atrocity, have been identified and arrested by Dubai authorities on Tuesday.
In light of his efforts to enforce community service as a means of constructive punishment, Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum ordered the offenders to clean the facilities of the Dubai Zoo for four hours daily for three months.
"The order underscores his [Sheikh Mohammed's] commitment to safeguarding the noble values upon which the UAE citizens were raised," said Major General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, according to Emirates 247.
"These values promote mercy for animals and denounce all forms of cruelty and violence even against animals," he said.
The video documenting the crime is still viewable online, but you probably can do without such horrifying footage.
In the clip, a man holds a cage with a cat inside, taunting two intentionally-starved dogs. The man then opens the cage, allowing the dogs to ruthlessly devour the cat alive.
Why? The Emirati man says he wanted to punish the cat for attacking pigeons and hens in his farm ... as if that could ever justify such sadistic cruelty?
After the video went viral on social media, it was brought to the attention of the Cyber Crimes Department, which identified and arrested the perpetrators with the help of Dubai Police.
The arrest was made only a couple of days after the incident occurred, indicating remarkable efforts by the Dubai Police, especially since the man's face is not revealed in the video.
Authorities announced Sheikh Mohammed's community service order on Wednesday, but it is not clear if the offenders will face further prosecution.
A recently enacted UAE federal law tackling animal abuse imposes, in case of violation, a punishment of up to one year of imprisonment and/or a fine not exceeding 200,000 dirhams ($54,000).
Commenting on the cat incident before Sheikh Mohammed's order was announced, Dubai Police's commander-in-chief said that the perpetrators could be fined Dh10,000 ($2,722) under article 432 of the Federal Punishment Law.
The animal cruelty law was passed last year, after several cases of animal abuse in the UAE were documented and shared on social media.
"We have had several recent incidents like this, including that of a dog whose hind legs were tied and then skinned alive. The abuse has not stopped," Dr Susan Aylott, a volunteer at Animal Welfare Abu Dhabi, told The National.
"It is hard to know if it is becoming more common, or people are reporting it more," she said.
Last September, a teenager was arrested in Ajman after a video of him throwing a cat against a wall was posted online. He was then released without charge after his parents pledged that he would not repeat the offense.
The community service order drew conflicting responses
While many people commended Sheikh Mohammed for the progressive penalty, others deemed it too lenient, demanding a harsher punishment.
According to Gulf News, the Dubai Police chief defended the order by describing community service as a "two-pronged approach": it obliges perpetrators to serve the community and spreads awareness about the consequences of wrongful acts.
The order is the second community punishment sanctioned this year for minor offenses in Dubai. Last month, Sheikh Mohammed imposed a 30-day community service sentence on three people involved in a dangerous stunt driving incident.
The UAE has been championing community service
In October 2016, UAE became the first Arab country to move towards restorative justice by replacing imprisonment for minor offesces with community service.
Under the new federal law, minor offenses are punishable by up to three months of community service instead of six months of jail time or a fine. But, courts can resort to a suitable jail sentence if convicts do not comply with the specified community service.
Similarly, Abu Dhabi recently passed a law that implements community service acts to be ordered by the emirate's misdemeanor court. Minor crimes that have less than a six-month jail sentence will now result in community service.
A list of suggested community service tasks includes memorizing the Quran, joining juvenile centers, helping at special needs centers and cleaning public areas.