ABU DHABI // New animal welfare laws and regulations to ban dangerous breeds require firm enforcement methods if they are to be a success, say animal welfare volunteers.
Federal Law 22 of 2016 will improve regulation of the possession, trade and breeding of dangerous animals, and tougher animal welfare laws, including higher punishments for animal abuse and the illegal breeding and sale of animals, are a step forward, they say.
Anyone using a dangerous animal for assault will face up to seven years in prison under the new rules, which are expected to come into force on July 1.
The trade in exotic pets is also likely to come under more scrutiny but animal welfare volunteer Dr Susan Aylott insists effective training and enforcement is vital.
“There needs to be more enforcement agents who know the law and how it can be enacted,” said Dr Aylott, a spokeswoman for the Animal Welfare Abu Dhabi group.
“An animal welfare police section where the public can report concerns that they know will be followed up on would make a big difference. Laws are in place but they need to be better enforced.”
Animal welfare groups in the UAE have said it could take up to a year for municipalities to adjust their own regulations and procedures to accommodate the new laws to ensure they are adequately enforced.
Regulations are expected to be enforced by the Emirates Animal Welfare Society and municipalities around the UAE.
“I’ve been to the market at Mina Animal Market several times and it’s clear technicians there don’t know how to handle animals,” Dr Aylott added.
“We offered to take several rabbits away that were in horrific conditions with no water. When we asked why [they were kept like that], we were told it was because it made them mess their cage.
“Some of the bird cages were the wrong size, and many didn’t have the correct diet. Many of the animals being sold there are sick.”
Owners have until July to register dogs that are on the updated list of banned breeds and already in the UAE.
Banned dogs include all types of pit bull, wolf-dog hybrids, American Staffordshire terriers, Japanese tosa, Brazilian and Argentinian mastiffs and crossbreeds of any of the above six types of dog.
Other breeds added to the banned list this year include the American bully, rottweilers, breed or hybrid, doberman pinschers, perro de presa canario and boxer dogs. Registration of the dogs will be compulsory.