Hot dog off to cooler climes: abandoned St Bernard heads from UAE to France

Bebe, a two-year-old abandoned in Dubai by its owners in January, is being flown to France next week by the dog rescue charity K9 Friends.

DUBAI - MAY 9,2010 - BeBe , 18 month old St. Bernard dog is sheltered at K9 Friends in Dubai. ( Paulo Vecina/The National )
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DUBAI // St Bernards, often weighing more than 50kg, with dense coats and roots going back to the Swiss Alps, are not suited to the heat of Dubai - nor to the confines of a small kennel at a dog rescue centre. For this reason, Bebe, a two-year-old St Bernard abandoned by its owners in January because they were leaving the country, is being flown to France next week by the dog rescue charity K9 Friends. There, the animal will begin a new life at a St Bernards rescue centre.

"These dogs are not meant to be in the desert," said Jackie Ratcliffe, who works at the shelter, which has a policy of not putting down any of its residents. "They are big snow dogs with thick coats and she can't even use the run because it's just too hot for her. Such big dogs have small hearts and the risk of heart attack is much greater in the heat. We have air conditioning but she's too big for such a kennel."

Ms Ratcliffe said she had become increasingly frustrated by the number of unsuitable breeds - St Bernards and huskies, to name just two - available for purchase at pet shops. Because of this, she said, the organisation had decided to raise funds to send Bebe to a more suitable climate. They hope Bebe's case will demonstrate the importance of choosing the right breed for the local climate. "This is really an education exercise," she said. "Our focus is really on stopping more of these dogs being brought over for sale." Bebe's departure will open a place for one of the 35 dogs on K9's waiting list to be taken into the group's Al Quoz shelter.