DUBAI // Thousands of complaints from concerned members of the public about the welfare of animals have been made to Dubai Municipality so far this year.
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.
“The number of complaints depends on the season — the first and fourth quarter are our highest seasons for complaints as the weather is cold, so stray animals are roaming around,” said Faisal Ibrahim Almuammari, head of the veterinary control unit at the public health service department at Dubai Municipality.
He said the total number of complaints for the first quarter of 2016 totalled 2,615, while a further 1,879 were recorded so far in the second quarter.
Mr Almuammari said complaints are taken seriously and both individuals and companies have been prosecuted under UAE Federal Law No16 of 2007, which was put in place to protect animals from abuse and negligence.
It states that inadequate diet or undernourishment, unsafe transportation, as well as other forms of mistreatment, including scientific experiments, cruelty and sexual abuse, are punishable by law.
Animals should receive medical attention when needed and abandonment is also illegal.
Owners of abandoned or neglected animals will receive written instructions about animal welfare and will be required to pledge that negligence will not reoccur.
If the situation continues, the owner will be penalised and held responsible for all expenses, including veterinary bills. The penalty for violating animal rights includes imprisonment for up to one year and a fine of up to Dh20,000.
Dubai Municipality employs 12 inspectors dedicated to 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 Almuammari. “With regard to private residences, if we receive any complaints then we go and investigate and we only enter the residence if we are allowed by the owner.
“If not, then we get permission from the public prosecutor’s office to enter the residence.”
Mr Almuammari said inspectors also do regular checks on pet shops to check they are abiding by municipality guidelines and investigate complaints made against them.
“We have the authority to confiscate any animal from any commercial property if they do not comply to our rules and regulations. For example, birds under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) or pets without registration records,” he said.
While the municipality has the authority to confiscate animals from private properties, that is often the last resort.
“We always give the owner a chance to relocate the animals to a better and safer accommodation, though as for baboons and other wild animals, all wild animals are prohibited in Dubai and are confiscated,” said Mr Almuammari.
“All complaints received after the resolution have a follow-up inspection so we can be sure that the law is followed.”
Source: uae news