x

Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 February 2018

Putting heat on pet abandoners

The plight of homeless pets is prompting calls for tougher animal-protection laws

Yelena Valici with her salukis, Hamdoon, Hawa and Philipa. Photo Courtesy: Yelena Valici
Yelena Valici with her salukis, Hamdoon, Hawa and Philipa. Photo Courtesy: Yelena Valici

Summer can be a cruel time for unwanted pets, and not just because of the heat. A few selfish owners will abandon their cats and dogs to fend for themselves on the streets when they leave the country or when the animals grows out of the cute kitten or puppy stage. At the same time, summer is also the time when animal welfare charities are most stretched, with fewer foster homes available because so many people are travelling.

These factors are compounded by this traditionally being the time of year when many residents choose to leave the country for pastures new. As we reported this week, a Russian woman who has found new homes for hundreds of salukis since 2010 is relocating to Greece but has been unable to find someone who can continue her work here. As an ancient hunting breed, salukis have a small but enthusiastic fan base among dog owners worldwide and Yelena Valici’s mission has been to put them in touch with dumped dogs here. Her efforts have led to up to nine salukis being rehomed each month, mostly in Europe or the United States.

However, her efforts to have this work continue after she leaves, including establishing a permanent rescue centre for salukis, have failed. Her absence will lead to a greater burden being placed on other animal rescue services, many of which are already stretched to capacity at this time of year. What Ms Valici and others are calling for is a complete overhaul of animal welfare laws to not just help protect a breed that is an essential part of Arabian heritage but also ensure more responsible ownership by owners of pets of all kinds.

Among the measures being suggested by Kirstie Lawton, a Briton who runs People for the Protection of Animals, are for all pets to be microchipped, linked to the owners’ Emirates ID card so that it will be more difficult for them to dump pets, and for tougher penalties for those who mistreat animals. The reality is there will always be some who will abandon their pets, but there are steps that can be taken to deter them and to ensure those who do are held accountable for their callousness.