Authorities evict tenants from villa community in Dubai for illegal pet trading

Property developer Damac says incidents are acted on as soon as they are reported

Neil Anderson, a dog trainer who raised the alarm over illegal online dog sales on Dubizzle with rogue sellers posing as his business on June 10 th, 2021.
Antonie Robertson / The National.
Reporter: Nick Webster for National.

Reports of animal abuse and possible illegal puppy sales in Damac Hills 2 resulted in tenants being evicted as authorities crack down on illegal pet traders.

The Ministry of Climate Change and the Environment’s biosecure hotline received several reports about villas suspected of being used to illegally sell animals.

Although breeding pets is not against the law, there are strict rules against illegal commercial breeding and trade in animals.

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Within 24 hours of it being reported, the municipality had addressed the issue and the tenant had vacated
Niall McLoughlin, senior vice president of marketing and corporate communications at Damac

Law on animal welfare

The UAE has strict animal welfare laws and provides a framework to regulate the sale, use and exhibition of animals.

Anyone who wants to breed animals for sale must obtain a licence in line with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.

Operating without one incurs fines ranging from Dh10,000 to Dh700,000, confiscation of the animals and even a prison sentence in some cases.

Animal welfare law in the UAE requires dog owners to obtain a licence and vaccinations for pets from local authorities within six months.

It also requires imported animals to be registered and have official certificates issued by the authorities within 30 working days.

Incidents in the villa community

Residents in Damac Hills 2 said these laws were being broken and called on community management and Dubai Municipality to take action.

“It is clear and obvious what is happening, and the whole street is against it,” said Scott Anderson, a resident of the community, who made several reports to the ministry’s bio-security early notification system.

“There have been multiple complaints made to Dubai Municipality, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, and to the Luxury Owner Association Management Services of Damac Properties, but it continues.

“A breeder was shut down in a house that was storing dogs – so some action has been taken – but it has not deterred others.

“There is plenty of evidence to prove what is happening.”

Residents reported many different dogs regularly arriving and leaving from the same properties in their community.

Residents said animal welfare was their biggest concern.

“We are seeing different dogs at this villa regularly, sometimes huskies, spaniels and other breeds,” said Edgar Susterovas, who lives near by.

“They are not their pets and are only walked late at night.

“Some dogs are tied up very tightly outside, and it is hot, with no shade.”

Damac said incidents were acted on as soon as they were reported, and that one resident had recently been evicted.

“Residents are allowed to keep domestic animals as long as they adhere to the strict community guidelines in relation to pet ownership,” said Niall McLoughlin, senior vice president of marketing and corporate communications at Damac.

“Any and all violations are dealt with swiftly and effectively by the community management team and, if necessary, the Dubai Municipality will be engaged.

“Occasionally you may get an isolated instance where a resident will report suspicion of animal welfare – these reports are dealt with immediately by the community management, the Dubai Municipality, or any other relevant authorities.

“The case at D2 was an instance where, within 24 hours of it being reported, the municipality had addressed the issue and the tenant had vacated.”

Dubai Municipality was contacted several times about the incidents but did not respond.

Neil Anderson, a dog trainer who raised the alarm over illegal online dog sales on Dubizzle with rogue sellers posing as his business on June 10 th, 2021.
Antonie Robertson / The National.
Reporter: Nick Webster for National.

Neil Anderson, the owner of Ras Al Khaimah boarding and training centre Homely Petz, made several reports of suspected puppy farms to Dubai Municipality in the past when his business’s name was used fraudulently to sell animals online.

“We know the ministry does not condone this kind of activity, but it does not define what cruelty is or what illegal selling is,” he said.

“Loose adoption laws are being used to circumvent strict laws on breeding.

“People are putting up animals for adoption, but asking for money.

“They are advertised as being unwanted puppies from a litter and people want to be compensated, but dogs are being bred illegally for profit without a licence to do so.”

Rescue groups in Abu Dhabi have also reported increasing numbers of sick animals being sold, often without the required paperwork.

Dr Susan Aylott, director of Animalia, a veterinary clinic in Al Bateen, said businesses or homes keeping animals in unhygienic conditions should be investigated.

ABU DHABI - UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - 04JUNE2017 - Dr. Helen Baker (R) veterinary surgeon at Australian Veterinary Hospital prepares two and half years old female trapped stray cats for neutering at Australian Veterinary Hospital, which was trapped by Volunteers from Animal Welfare Abu Dhabi, near Mina fish market in Abu Dhabi as Dr Susan Aylott (C) founder of Animal Welfare Abu Dhabi looks on. Ravindranath K / The National ID: 79679 (to go with Nicholas Webster story for News)
 *** Local Caption ***  RK0406-Welfarepets37.jpg

“We are also seeing legitimate pet shops selling dogs without the correct paperwork, shipped into the UAE without the correct vaccinations or incorrect dates of birth,” she said.

“They are usually too young to be away from their mothers.

“So many sick cats and dogs are traded, there needs to be better enforcement of the law; there are financial and custodial penalties available if these cases are prosecuted correctly.”

Ministry launches information campaign and reporting hotline

The climate change ministry co-ordinates with municipalities and the police to act on reports of illegal breeding and follows up to ensure measures are taken.

While the ministry did not comment on specific cases of suspected illegal breeding in Dubai, it did say education programmes were under way.

“The ministry runs public awareness campaigns on social media, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to help people understand the consequences of illegal breeding and other violations of animal welfare laws,” a spokesperson said.

“In the event of any suspected breach or violation of the provisions of the above-mentioned laws, the ministry urges the public to report these violations through the online biosecurity early notification system.

“Suspected violations of the regulations can also be reported to the municipal authorities in each emirate.

“Of course, wherever clear danger to the public occurs, the police should be notified.”

Animal welfare concerns can be reported at https://biosecalert.ae/en/Pages/home.aspx, through the ministry hotline 8003050, or via email at info@moccae.gov.ae.

Updated: April 12, 2022, 4:41 AM
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