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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Dubai Pet Festival scales back dog show after banned breeds advertised

Pit bulls and molosser dogs were due to be displayed at the event

Sara Al Zaki helps rescue and rehome banned breeds of animals that have been used in dog fighting. She is seen with Dusty the Rottweiler, left, and Jess the Golden Retriever. Victor Besa for The National
Sara Al Zaki helps rescue and rehome banned breeds of animals that have been used in dog fighting. She is seen with Dusty the Rottweiler, left, and Jess the Golden Retriever. Victor Besa for The National

A dog show has been scaled back after complaints that the event was advertising breeds that are banned in the UAE.

The free event in Al Warsan had been widely advertising a dog show featuring molosser dogs and pit bulls on December 15.

Organisers were displaying Dubai Municipality logos on advertising, as well as logos from the International Bully Kennel Club, a respected organisation for responsible owners and breeders.

Earlier this year, a government directive was issued banning certain breeds in the UAE, including those due to be on show at the Pet Festival.

Dubai Municipality is responsible for enforcing the changes in the law in ownership of these dogs.

Event management has since cancelled the bully breed part of the dog show, although the festival will continue, and removed the IBKC logo.

Shree Nair, the festival’s promoter, who also publishes the Pet ME magazine, said there was confusion about which breeds would be on display.

“Many people are spreading rumours, and we have already cancelled this bully show,” he said.

“Last year we did this in Abu Dhabi and it was ok. We’ve had clearance from the municipality that if these breeds are already in the country, then they can come.”

Banned dogs in the UAE include all types of pit bull, wolf-dog hybrids, American Staffordshire terriers, Japanese tosa, Brazilian and Argentinian mastiffs and crossbreeds of those dogs.

“We were not aware of this show,” said Lani Havaiki, vice president and chief executive of the IBKC.

“We did participate last year with our official judge and representative that oversaw the sanctioned IBKC portion of the show.

“The promoter just put our logo on this year's event poster without us knowing.

“As a registry we lobby and fight 'Breed Specific Legislation (BSL)' Laws worldwide. It is the owners and not the breed that make these dogs bad.”

Volunteers who have worked at similar pet festivals in the UAE have concerns over allowing banned breeds into dog shows.

“I attended a pet show in Dubai a few years ago as I was volunteering and handling competitors during pre-class judging, so we were working in the holding area,” said one woman, who did not want to be named.

“When the class for the dangerous breeds came up, we were traumatised. All these young men arrived with their aggressive and baited dogs.

“It was nearly carnage and we left, it was just too frightening, with the men facing the dogs off against each other.

“The moral and ethical grounds are firmly against this sort of thing, and it is clearly against Federal Law 22.”

Other breeds added to the banned list this year include the American bully, rottweilers, breed or hybrid, doberman pinschers, perro de presa canario and boxers.

“If there are owners who have the papers for these dogs, and they are here legally then it is not my responsibility,” said Mr Nair, who insists the festival will otherwise continue as planned.

“We are no longer promoting these breeds, but anyone who has one of these dogs and wants to attend the festival then they can come unless we are told otherwise.

“There has been a misunderstanding about the use of the IBKC logo with the festival.

“They have been trying to show these animals have developed an unfair reputation. Most of these breeds already in the UAE are softer than puppies, and calmer than Chihuahua’s.”

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Read more:

List of banned dogs for import expanded

UAE ban on dog breeds has owners confused over amnesty period, implementation

Firm enforcement of new animal laws coming into force required, say welfare volunteers

Dogfighting fears after victim found

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Owners of pets on the banned breed list have been left unsure of their position legally. In January, a revised federal law published in the Official Gazette stated that owners of dangerous animals had to register them with authorities within 30 days.

All dogs must now be licensed, registered and kept on a lead at all times in public, with fines up to Dh400,000 or a prison sentence of up to seven years for anyone found using a dangerous animal to attack another.

Sara Al Zaki helps with a rehoming centre for banned breeds in Dubai and said pet festivals are attractive to responsible owners and have a positive impact on improving animal welfare.

“These dog shows set standards for the rest of the country,” she said.

“They are happening worldwide in Germany, America and the UK so why shouldn’t they take place here?

“It’s better they are out in the open, as people want to participate.

“Owners are proud of these pedigrees - they know the blood lines and the genetics, so the festivals are beneficial.”

Banned breeds, once registered, cannot be re-homed or adopted if the owner decides to give up the dog. Re-registration with another owner will no longer be possible.

Owners of banned breeds have said they are confused about what they need to do to comply with the law.

“Up to now, no one really knows what the protocol or strategy is in regards to these breeds,” said Ms Al Zaki.

“It is not fair the municipality should be confiscating these dogs, and I can see how it is contradicting to then have a bully show.

“Responsible owners visit these shows, and they don’t want to get in trouble or risk having their dog taken away.”

Dubai Municipality did not respond to requests for comment.