Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

4,500 animal welfare complaints made to Dubai authorities since January

Complaints or calls are often about abandoned animals, stray animals roaming the streets, animal attacks, noise complaints, cruelty and neglect, and about pet shops for abuse, crowding animals, neglecting them or leaving them in dirty conditions.

DUBAI // Thousands of complaints from the public about the welfare of animals have been received by Dubai Municipality so far this year.

They are often about abandoned animals, stray animals roaming the streets, attacks, noise complaints, cruelty and neglect.

There are also some against pet shops abusing, crowding, neglecting or leaving animals in dirty conditions.

“The number of complaints depends on the season,” said Faisal Al Muammari, head of veterinary control for the municipality. “The first and fourth quarter are our highest seasons for complaints as the weather is cold, so stray animals are roaming.”

He said the total number of complaints received in the first half of the year was 4,494.

Such complaints, he said, were taken seriously and that people and businesses had been prosecuted under laws protecting animals from abuse and negligence.

Inadequate diet or undernourishment, unsafe transport and other forms of mistreatment, including scientific experiments and cruelty, are punishable by law.

Animals should receive medical attention when needed and abandonment is illegal. Owners of abandoned or neglected animals receive written instructions about animal welfare and are required to pledge that the negligence will not recur.

If a situation continues, the owner will be penalised and held responsible for all expenses, including veterinary bills.

Penalties include imprisonment of up to a year and a fine of up to Dh20,000.

The municipality employs 12 inspectors for investigating animal welfare complaints.

“All animal premises and vet establishments in Dubai are under Dubai Municipality’s authority and we are entitled to enter, search, warn, fine such premises,” said Mr Al Muammari.

“With regard to private residences, if we receive any complaints then we go and investigate. We only enter the residence if we are allowed by the owner. If not, then we get permission from the public prosecutors’ office to enter the residence.”

Mr Al Muammari said inspectors also conducted regular checks on pet shops to ensure they complied with municipal guidelines and investigated complaints against them.

“We have the authority to confiscate any animal from any commercial property if they do not comply to our rules and regulations.”

They included endangered species being illegally held in homes, and unregistered pets. Confiscation of pets is often the last resort.

“We always give the owner a chance to relocate the animals to a better and safer accommodation. As for baboons and other wild animals, they are prohibited in Dubai and are confiscated,” said Mr Al Muammari.

“All complaints received after the resolution have a follow-up inspection so we can be sure that the law is followed.”