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Who let the dogs out?


‘This summer, K9 Friends has a waiting list of more than 100 dogs, triple the normal amount’

August 28, 2014 10:18 by

Kippreport speaks with Alister Milne, a volunteer at K9 Friends, about his views on dog abandonment in Dubai.

Has K9 Friends noticed an increase in the number of abandoned dogs in Dubai?

Unfortunately, it is a fairly constant problem. We are always full, anytime of the year and for as long as we can remember. We always have a waiting list of dogs waiting to come in. This summer has been very bad. Normally our waiting list is anywhere between 30 and 40 dogs, but this summer it has just exceeded 100, triple the normal amount.

How many dogs can you house at K9 Friends?

We are considered full at 120 dogs, but, at the moment, we have 140 dogs. Normally, we end up with 130+ dogs at one time.

I have heard a lot of stories about tenants being threatened to move out because of new pet rules and bans, such as Emaar’s Dubai Marina Promenade pet ban. Do you believe this will increase dog abandonment in Dubai?

From our point of view, hopefully not. In general, we have a problem with owners taking responsibility for their dogs. It is fairly common that we get people that call and say they have bought a dog and have now found out they cannot keep it in the apartment. Now, those rules were already in place before the family got the dog, but the problem is they have just not done enough research before obtaining one.

What we recommend is that if you are looking to get a new lease, ask for a clause to state that pets are allowed. This does not offer protection from rule changes, but it will give you some ground for argument with landlords, in that this was already an arrangement before you took on the lease.

Have you noticed an increase in limitations for dogs in Dubai in the recent years or has it always been like this?

There is such a difference now from area to area for how easy it is to have dogs, with access for walks, the rules around them and so on. When getting a dog, you need to consider where you are living, and make sure you think ahead and plan.

Many people have to take their dogs further out of town for walks, which takes more effort, but is still possible. It may also be necessary to do this with some dogs, because sometimes walking them on a lead may not be enough exercise.

What do you think we can do to improve the level of dog-friendliness in Dubai?

It is difficult; in recent years, there have been more kennels and daycares opening up, where they have areas for dogs. I believe there is also a new area opening up near the Greens, which is supposed to be dog friendly. The problem at this point is that, in other places of the world, you can take your dog to the park, cafés and so on, so if one place were to open in Dubai and say ‘this is a dog-friendly area’, it would be over-run.

The number of people who want to take their dogs to different places is shocking. This was shown at the last dog show, where a large number of dogs turned up in one place, and this, in the end, caused a major problem because the dogs got either over-excited or nervous to see other dogs. The lack of dog facilities in Dubai has resulted in pet owners not being able to socialise their dog with other dogs or people properly, resulting in pets becoming nervous when thrown into these kinds of situations.

How can dog owners in Dubai help speed-up the process of Dubai becoming a more dog-friendly city?

We try to educate people to be responsible and clean up after their dogs. It only takes one person walking their dog twice a day to make an area very messy, if people are not responsible with their dogs, it is going to be a lot harder. There are areas in Dubai where the municipality will provide bins for you to clean up after your dog and so on, and that does not necessarily happen. In the end, it comes down to the fact that the more control you have over your dogs; the more you can do with your them.

A dog does not necessarily see people, other dogs, or even bicycles, on a day-to-day basis in Dubai. So to try to do this all at once, can be very stressful for them. It is hard to say what, when or if it will improve, but from our side, we try to educate people that if you are in an area where you can take your dog out, be responsible for it and train it to be as friendly as possible.

The more positive experiences people have with dogs, the more likely it is to change.

By Florence Pilkington

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