DUBAI // Activists are calling for more pet shops to take the ethical approach to finding animals a good home – and for the rising tide of abandoned animals to be stemmed by banning the sale of puppies and kittens.
Campaigners say the UAE is trailing behind other nations that take a tougher approach to the sale of dogs and cats bred in puppy mills or breeding farms and believe that introducing rules whereby pet shops simply offer homeless animals for adoption would improve the chances of them finding a good home, rather than being cast aside.
“In other countries retail pet store sales bans are a welcome trend that is putting the squeeze on breeding operations,” said Debbie Lawson, a volunteer who works with several animal welfare organisations across the UAE. “There is a huge movement against selling puppies and kittens in pet shops – the tide of public opinion has turned against the barbaric practices of puppy mills and breeding farms who sell puppies and kittens to the pet trade.
“Legislation has been enacted in 160 cities in 17 states in the United States and Canada banning the sale of puppy mill cats and dogs in pet shops.”
Ms Lawson points to Victoria, which recently became the first Australian state to put such a ban in place, as evidence of this growing trend, as well as petitions and campaigns for similar laws to be enacted in the UK and other countries.
“In the jurisdictions where bans have been introduced, the pet shops often offer homeless animals for adoption instead,” she said. “With such a high percentage of transient population [in the UAE], many of whom do not repatriate their pets with them and instead leave them abandoned, the question is: isn’t that reason enough to introduce a retail pet shop ban on puppies and kittens, to try and stop the flood of abandoned animals?”
An ethical attitude to running a pet shop is already being demonstrated at some UAE stores, including Pet Mart.
“I think that, in the UAE, there is so much work to do regarding wildlife, and even in stopping people breeding animals themselves at home or importing them from puppy mills,” said Daniela Rauso, of the Dubai-based shop. “Here, puppies and kittens are used like a present, a gift for a relative or a friend.
“And most of the time, this gift, after a while, becomes an unwanted gift.”
Sarah Bartlett, of Animal Action UAE, supports the idea of a greater number of ethical pet shops in the UAE but said for this to be successful it will need to be a voluntary initiative and involve a great deal of education and engagement from the public.
“Pet shops sell ‘factory-bred’ animals because many people want specific breeds, often for their looks or perceived status,” she said. “Many of these animals are then dumped when the novelty wears off.”
Alister Milne, of K9 Friends, said that animals bred in puppy mills can have health and behavioural problems.
“We are regularly contacted by people who have had difficulties, having bought from a pet shop. Either the dog has health problems or they have received poor advice on what dogs are suitable for their situation,” he said. “Ethical pet shops are undoubtedly to be encouraged and a few have started in Dubai.
“There are certainly enough dogs in Dubai to fill pet shops – we currently have close to 70 people wanting to give us dogs that we have no space for.
“While I do not think it would be a simple thing to achieve in Dubai, the more places around the world that make the shift, the more effect it will have on public opinion.
“It is a wonderful thought to think pet shops could help with the stray and homeless dog population in Dubai, rather than contributing to it.”
Source: uae news