DUBAI // Willem Kaltwasser has loved animals all his life, but living in a small Jumeirah Lake Towers apartment his family just did not have the space for a cat or dog. Recently, however, the family of four rented a large villa in Jumeirah Village with a huge garden. Although they do not move in until this weekend, last Friday they headed to the Dubai Animal Rescue Centre (DARC), adopting a fox terrier dog and two Persian cats all in one go.
"We originally went to DARC to adopt a dog, but then my wife, Ilze, saw two Persian cats that were sisters and she wanted them," Mr Kaltwasser said. "Then my daughter Kyarha saw a fox terrier that was the same colours as her teddy bear, and we took him too." Kyarha, five, named the dog Dusty after her teddy bear. All three animals had been turned over to the centre by owners who said they could no longer care for them, said Ayesha Kelaif, founder of DARC.
"Peek-a-boo and Shenanigans have been together from day one, I couldn't bare to separate them," said Mrs Kelaif. "Many people wanted to adopt one or the other but not both, and I wouldn't have that because the two cats absolutely love one another. "But when Willem and his family came by DARC, they saw Peek-a-Boo and Shenaningans and decided to adopt them as well. It's very rare that someone comes in and takes two cats and a dog at once. This was a very happy ending."
Mr Kaltwasser grew up around animals in a community in the South African countryside and came to love them. His family always had dogs and so did he, including a much-loved poodle named Boomer that died of skin cancer. He has wanted another dog ever since, although circumstances never allow it. Several years ago, he and his wife fostered dogs from animal shelters for short periods of time until permanent homes were found for them.
"My family and I moved to Dubai four years ago, first into a villa then into a small apartment," the 32-year-old construction manager said. "My wife always wanted a cat and I wanted a dog but couldn't get one permanently because of our living situation. We didn't have enough space for a cat or dog and didn't feel right buying a dog when so many are in shelters looking for homes. But now with the move to the new villa, we will have plenty of space for them."
As part of the adoption process, the Kaltwassers had to attend a workshop set up by DARC. "I won't give animals to just anyone," said Mrs Kelaif. "Those who want to adopt one of the animals have to come in to DARC so I can observe how they are with the animals. Many people say they love animals but they don't know how to care for them, so I see how they are together with the animal they want to adopt.
"If I feel they will care and love the animal, I have them sign a contract that states they will not sell or rehouse the animal without DARC's permission. In the contract they also sign that for the first six months after adoption a DARC representative can show up unannounced where the animal is being kept to check on its condition. If it's not being properly cared for we will take it back." The Kaltwassers passed DARC's evaluation with flying colours, easing the centre's current load of about 90 animals.
"The facilities at DARC are superb," Mr Kaltwasser said. "I couldn't believe how good things are there." For Mr Kaltwasser's nine-year-old son, Keagan, the weekend cannot come soon enough. "I am very happy," Keagan said. "My favourite cat is Peek-a-Boo, but I am going to love and play with all the animals." firstname.lastname@example.org