DUBAI // The sudden closure of the emirate’s first “dog park” has left staff with salaries unpaid, customers out of pocket and some animals facing an uncertain future, claims an insider.
Opened in 2010, Paws Pet Planet, in Dubai Investments Park, became a popular destination for dog owners as it was a place their pets could play off the lead. The centre offered day care, training classes and boarding for dogs, as well as refuge for rescued animals.
A source said staff were devastated by the decision to shut the business down.
“It closed last Sunday, pretty much about the same time the electricity was cut off,” he said.
There were about eight employees who have not been paid for two months.
“It’s really sad because the reason many of them joined is because they are animal lovers,” he said.
Staff were seeking to cancel their visas and find other jobs.
As of Thursday, three dogs were at the centre.
One belonged to a customer who was due to pick up the animal that day and the other two were rescue dogs. In addition, there were two cats that needed rehomed.
The founder of Paws Pet Planet, Michelle Creasy-Bojang, was believed to have returned to the UK. She could not be contacted for confirmation.
The centre’s website made no reference to the closure and its Facebook page was shut down.
“As well as the unpaid salaries of the current staff, I think five or six people who had left earlier are still owed their gratuity,” said the insider. He believed that the company owed about Dh60,000 in pay and gratuities.
“I don’t think anyone is hopeful they will get the money and I think the next step is to contact the Ministry of Labour, as there isn’t much else they can do,” he said.
Things at the business began to go downhill last month, when the last of the management left, he said. “You can’t run a business properly with no management and when the last one left, some of the care staff and the driver also quit,” he said.
Daniela Noora, 29, from Germany, was a regular customer and had been dropping off her Jack Russell three times a week.
“I had driven to the centre last Sunday and saw it was closed and no one was picking up the phone,” she said.
Ms Noora wanted to drop her dog off for three weeks as she was planning to travel to Europe. “I had paid Dh850 in advance for my dog to stay at the centre while I was away,” she said. “Now it doesn’t look like I’ll get a refund.
“But there is also a bit of relief that I didn’t drop my dog off because I would have been worried about what would have happened if he was there and it had closed.”
She said she was aware of some customers who said they had paid Dh1,500 in advance for services.
“They [owners] must have known it was closing yet they were still asking customers to pay up front,” she said.
Ms Noora is planning to report the matter to the police.