ABU DHABI // Dog owners must buy a licence for their pets and keep them on a leash at all times when in public under a new draft law passed by the Federal National Council.
There will be fines of up to Dh500,000 and up to six months in jail for owners who fail to keep their pets under control and the animal will be confiscated.
The penalty also applies to owners who do not vaccinate their dogs against dangerous diseases. Owners will have six months from the date the law comes into action, which is yet to be announced, to buy the necessary licence and vaccinations.
The law, which was discussed by the FNC on Wednesday also bans the private ownership of wild and exotic animals.
It aims to regulate the possession and trade of predatory, dangerous and semi-dangerous animals.
Only zoos, wildlife parks, circuses, breeding and research centres are allowed to keep wild or exotic animals. The public is urged to report cases of wild animals being kept as pets.
Anyone who takes a leopard, cheetah or any other kind of exotic animal out in public will be fined between Dh10,000 and Dh500,000.
People who use an animal to threaten or intimidate others face a Dh700,000 fine and/or jail time. If a person is killed by an animal, its owner can face manslaughter charges and be fined up to Dh400,00.
Members expressed concerns about whether or not the authorities would be able to rehome exotic animals that were being kept as pets in private collections, often at villas and farms, all over the country.
Dr Thani Alzeyoudi, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, said he expected the ministry to receive an influx of animals from owners eager to comply with the law.
He assured the FNC that preparations were under way to accommodate any unwanted creatures.
“We started last week working on this while coordinating with local parties to see what capacities we have to accommodate the number of wild animals that will be handed over,” he said.
The law follows a ruling by Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed, Ruler of Sharjah, in November 2014, prohibiting people in the emirate from owning dangerous predators. The order came after numerous incidents of people raising illegally obtained dangerous pets at their homes.
During an amnesty for owners to hand over their animals, a lioness, hyenas, alligators, pythons, baboons, scorpions, spiders and lynx were delivered to Environment and Protected Areas Authority officials.
The animals were taken to the Sharjah Breeding Centre for Arabian Endangered Wildlife.