DUBAI // A law aimed at preventing ownership, trading and breeding of dangerous, wild and exotic animals will be strengthened by education and additional welfare measures, a Government minister says.
“The law aims to safeguard community members from the risks that may be caused by these animals, as well as to protect those animals from extinction,” said Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment.
“However, animal welfare cannot be achieved by legislation alone, strict implementation is more important to deal with any illegal activities. Therefore, we have taken several steps towards raising awareness among the public and professionals on the benefits of upholding animal welfare standards, strengthening supervision and monitoring systems and encouraging best practices in this area.”
Under Federal Law No 22 of 2016, which took effect after being published in the official gazette, anyone who uses an animal to attack another person will face life imprisonment if the assault leads to the victim’s death.
In the event the attack causes a disability, a prison term of up to seven years will be imposed. If other minor injuries are suffered, a prison term of not more than one year and a fine of up to Dh10,000 will be handed down to the culprit.
Those who use animals to frighten people will face a jail term and/or a fine of between Dh10,000 and Dh400,000.
The law states that only zoos, wildlife parks, circuses, breeding and research centres are entitled to keep dangerous, wild or exotic animals and all permits issued to other entities to import such animals will be revoked.
Owners of exotic animals must hand these animals over to authorities within six months from the effective date of the law.
The law also requires dog owners to obtain a licence and vaccinations for their pets from local authorities within six months from the date of the law. Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times when in public. Those who fail to leash their dogs will face a fine between Dh10,000 and Dh100,000.
In addition to banning the unlicensed ownership of wild and dangerous animals, the law also stipulates the need for stricter record-keeping of wild or dangerous, domesticated or undomesticated animals.
It requires imported animals to be registered and have official certificates issued by the authorities within 30 working days from the date of the law.
It also encourages people to report any abandoned animals to the authorities or to the nearest police station.
The complete law on regulating possession of dangerous animals, with details on banned animals, penalties and fines, is available on MOCCAE’s official website.