Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 August 2019

Influx threatens to swamp pound with abandoned pets

Staff have taken in puppies bought as gifts for Ramadan then discarded and even a Husky that was brought to the shelter just a week after having been given to an eight-year-old as a pet.
Each summer, K9 Friends Dubai braces itself for an influx of unwanted pets left behind. Duncan Chard for the National
Each summer, K9 Friends Dubai braces itself for an influx of unwanted pets left behind. Duncan Chard for the National

DUBAI // The emirate’s largest dog shelter is struggling to deal with the annual summer rush of abandoned animals, with 20 dogs a week turning up at its door in need of a new home.

Each summer, staff at K9 Friends Dubai brace themselves for an influx of unwanted pets left behind by owners who have either left the country for good or simply gone on holiday.

By mid-July last year, the shelter was trying to rehome 112 abandoned dogs. Right now, staff are looking after 120. Resources are at breaking point with more dogs arriving each week.

“It’s worrying that we’re at this point already. It feels like they’re coming earlier and in greater numbers than we’ve seen. I’ve not seen it this bad in my five years here,” said Alister Milne, from K9 Friends Dubai.

“We took in 33 dogs from the municipality just more than a month ago.”

Large numbers of older dogs are being abandoned. These find it difficult to adapt to the shelter environment and are harder to re-home.

Staff have also taken in puppies bought as gifts for Ramadan then discarded, and even a husky that was brought to the shelter a week after having been given to an eight-year-old as a pet.

“We had a good April but in May we homed only 12 of the dogs and we aim for 30 each month,” Mr Milne said. Many of the dogs abandoned were left by families relocating abroad.

“There’s no excuse to not relocate an animal these days,” he said. “It just takes a little planning, but it’s getting easier and easier. Leaving the country isn’t a reason not to take the dog.”

The shelter is desperately seeking foster families to help ease the burden while staff try to find new homes for the dogs.

“We’re looking for people who aren’t travelling, or who can help, even for a couple of weeks over summer,” Mr Milne said.

Georgina Ford adopted a German shepherd cross from K9 Friends. She said many people did not understand the costs and realities of owning a dog, and quickly give them up.

“There are very few public places where a dog is allowed, while vet bills can be enormous. Generally it is a very dog unfriendly city,” she said.

Jacqueline Whitelaw adopted a mongrel from K9 Friends, her second dog in 20 years living in Dubai.

“I don’t know how people can make the decision to throw their animals on the street in this heat or dump them at a shelter. We have chosen to bring ‘Goose’ into our family and when we ­return home to Scotland he comes too. No question.”

Charlotte Gambling is preparing to take her four UAE rescue dogs home to the UK in two weeks’ time. She has researched the move and is preparing the dogs for the journey.

“We took a month doing our research, getting quotes and accepting. We then took another month to get them used to their travel boxes. But if your dog has had the rabies vaccine at the right time you can mobilise in a week or two.

“It’s a pretty easy process to ­organise for yourself, but companies obviously make it a lot easier. It’s important to make sure that the company you use is fully licensed.

“Every expat with a pet should make sure that they start saving as soon as they get a pet.

“It’s highly likely that you will be moving back home eventually, so pet owners should plan for that.”

For more information on how to adopt or foster a dog, visit K9friends.com

mswan@thenational.ae

Updated: June 6, 2017 04:00 AM

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