x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Pets still for sale on internet

Laws being flouted as pedigree cats and dogs are still being offered for sale from unlicensed breeders on websites.

Advertisements for pedigree dogs and newborn kittens by the litter can still be found daily on websites.
Advertisements for pedigree dogs and newborn kittens by the litter can still be found daily on websites.

More should be done to prevent the illegal sale of pets over the internet, UAE animal welfare groups have said.

The law in Dubai bans the sale of animals without a licence. However, advertisements for pedigree dogs and newborn kittens by the litter can be found daily on sites like Kaberfarm.

According to the Dubai-based non-profit animal welfare group Feline Friends, the authorities should be doing more to tackle the problem.

Lesley Muncey, the organisation's chairwoman, said people advertise pets like cats and dogs under the pretext they are being given up for adoption, "but once you call they ask for money".

She added: "There are far too many people selling animals illegally, especially online. The law is in place, which is fantastic, but it needs to be implemented."

The UAE Animal Welfare Enforcement Request, a petition on the Friends of Animals website, which has been circulating since 2010, is also calling for action to be taken.

Hisham Fahmi, a veterinary expert at the Dubai Muncipality Veterinary Services (DMVS), said the authorities do contact people who advertise pets online "to catch those who violate the law".

He said they also follow up all complaints from the public.

However, he said tackling illegal sales on the internet was part of "a global issue" and was not restricted to the UAE.

He added: "It is hard to understand why anyone would buy an animal from a person they don't know on the internet, instead of a shop with proper certificates."

According to Mr Fahmi, animal rights laws "should be federal" and not different for each emirate.

Kaberfarm management was not available for comment, but the website states it has "no control over the quality, safety or legality of the items advertised". The website's focus is selling animals.

Max Spicer, the managing partner at Dubai veterinary hospital, said the public's awareness of the issue "has greatly improved", but it is not yet good enough.

Last week, DMVS signed a training agreement for staff with the London-based World Society for the Protection of Animals.

"It is an organisation with a lot of experience. We still have a lot to learn," said Mr Fahmi.

The number of animals abandoned in the UAE increases during the summer months as owners who no longer want to care for their pets leave the country.

As a result, the number of groups that care for and rehome animals has also increased to about 24.

Most, including the Dubai Animal Rescue Centre (Darc), are struggling to cope.Ayesha Kelaif, who runs Darc from her home, said she is "overwhelmed with people trying to find a quick solution" to getting rid of their animals. "I get about eight to 10 calls a day, mostly from people looking for a place to dump their pet," she said.

Emirati Ms Kelaif, whose husband died a few months ago, said times are "especially difficult" because she is not allowed, for cultural reasons, to hire male workers to help out at the centre.

She said she has put her animal rescue work on hold while she waits for the Dubai Land Department to grant her approval to build a new centre.

molson@thenational.ae