The slaughter of 29 dogs by men armed with rifles in Qatar has sparked outrage in the Gulf state as it gears up to host the World Cup later this year.
Authorities say police are investigating the killings, the worst of a series of brutal cases of cruelty to dogs.
But they face criticism from animal welfare activists who say laws defending domestic animals like dogs are not being enforced.
The latest killings took place at an industrial compound near the capital Doha on July 10, but the slaughter was only reported days later, activists told AFP.
Four men, two armed with hunting rifles, threatened guards at the factory and then killed 29 dogs and puppies, activists said. At least three others were wounded, including two in the late stages of pregnancy.
When the men showed up the dogs started running towards them believing "they were going to be fed", one activist said.
"But the men started shooting at random," the activist added.
Authorities say they have identified suspects, without giving further details.
The motive was not immediately clear though activists said dogs have long been a target for inhumane treatment in the Gulf state where some believe that Islam considers dogs "unclean".
According to one activist, the shooters told security guards "that a dog had bitten the son of one of the men".
"But the compound is sealed off with high fences and no child could enter to play near the dogs," the activist said.
Another said there had been many cases in recent years of dogs and birds, including flamingoes, being used for target practice by people with rifles.
"There seems to be no law enforced, that means these monsters will be never brought to justice," Paws Rescue Qatar, a animal welfare group that first reported the attack, said in a statement on its Instagram account.
An activist added: "The issue here is why people are allowed to use hunting rifles and guns against animals.
"As far as we are aware no case has ever led to a successful prosecution."
Qatari authorities have not publicly commented on the case.
But Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani, sister of the Qatari ruler, condemned the attack as "unacceptable" on social media.
Since the slaughter, authorities have rounded up the other dogs that were in the industrial compound and taken them to a government-run shelter where some 3,000 strays are believed to be held, according to activists.
These campaigners have complained that activists have never been given access to the shelter, and fear for the animals there.
Activists have also said authorities had never responded to offers to organize training and the management of shelters.
© 2022 AFP