Abandoning pets to go on holiday is always the wrong choice

Many pet hotels and boarding facilities are at full capacity during Eid Al Fitr and abandoning an animal is not a solution.
Kennels and pet boarding facilities in the UAE usually require a booking of up to four months in advance to leave an animal. Delores Johnson / The National
Kennels and pet boarding facilities in the UAE usually require a booking of up to four months in advance to leave an animal. Delores Johnson / The National

Holidays are a time to celebrate, travel and unwind, but this is not the case for many pet owners and their animals in Dubai.

As holidays such as Eid Al Fitr approach, animal welfare organisations point out that many pets are abandoned because their owners are unable to find them last-minute housing.

Aideen O’Mara, owner of Urban Tails resort, said her business was at full capacity during Eid Al Fitr, and that pet owners were required to book at least four months in advance to leave their animal with the pet hotel during the holidays.

“We go online and look at all school calendars and see when they’re off for Easter, Christmas and Eid. Those are usually our busiest times,” she said. “We already have some bookings for next summer.”

Barry Judge, general manager of Dubizzle in the UAE, said there was a rise in animal adverts posted on the website at this time of year. The trading website has a policy against offering animals for sale in the UAE, and only allows for free adoptions.

“With a 46 per cent increase in the number of ads placed on the Dubizzle pets section during the summer months, it’s obvious that some people are not aware of what they are getting into when taking ownership of a pet,” he said.

Cat owner Mohammed Nehme said that he had been trying for the past month to find a temporary home for his pet while he travels home to Lebanon during Eid.

“I have contacted a number of places but so far have not been able to find my cat a place to stay,” the 25-year-old said.

“I even thought about hiring a home-care service, but I was uncomfortable with the idea of a stranger in my home.

“Abandoning her is out of the question, so I have asked one of my only friends staying in Dubai for the holidays to visit and feed her once a day.”

Peta Wittig, founder of adopt-ME.ae, said that many pet owners were not so thoughtful.

“Many welfare organisations have said that this has been the worst summer with so many pets being abandoned in the emirate,” she said. “However, there are alternative services, such as hiring a qualified pet sitter or asking close friends to help out.

“It is important that pet owners do their research, meet the pet sitters, and it is their right to ask for references.”

Debbie Lawson of the Middle East Animal Foundation said that home-care services can sometimes be more suitable for pets.

“Cats are usually more comfortable in their own environment if they are monitored,” she said, noting that there are a many qualified organisations online.

Ms Lawson warned pet owners against placing their pets in boarding facilities that do not fully cooperate with the customer.

“There are a number of red flags to look out for. If a facility does not allow the pet owner to take a tour of the place, or if they do not ask for proof of vaccination, those are all bad signs,” she said. “However, at the end of the day, there is always an alternative to finding someone to take care of your pet. Abandoning your pet should never be an option.”

dmoukhallati@thenational.ae

Published: July 27, 2014 04:00 AM

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