The other day at a friend’s residential complex, we were playing with her pet dog and running about chasing each other on the common garden grounds. It was a fun evening, the winter breeze ruffling through our hair and her fur. We were joined by similar groups or individuals taking a walk around the compound. This is a common sight in several residential communities across Dubai. However, there are also buildings that do not permit keeping pets for unconvincing reasons like doing it for the convenience of residents at large – including non-pet owners.
We are talking about dogs, the harmless, domestic, loyal man’s best friend. Unlike other parts of the world, the emirate also believes in adding wild cats in the same category. Plenty of videos and photographs all over the internet indicate the rather dangerous liaisons that the more affluent, the more powerful in this oil-rich nation engages in. Most recently, we saw images of how five pet tigers were roaming around the beach near Burj Al Arab. A while back we saw how a lion’s head appeared inside a fancy car parked at a petrol station for fueling. You would think the movies exaggerated these things, but your trip to Dubai will convince you otherwise.
Now, the government has had enough of all this canine attention. They are happy with their infrastructure grandeur and has decided to put a stop on this jungle book revelry (there is a popular dining district in the city which actually has a life size model of Mowgli on a rock – right in the middle of a walkway). A new Law on the Regulation of Ownership of Dangerous Animals, published in its official gazette, and which took effect immediately, some hefty fines on people who dealt with and owned “all types of wild and domesticated but dangerous animals.” Only zoos, wildlife parks, circuses, breeding and research centers are allowed to keep them.
Some serious penalties are lined up for those who don’t obey these new rules – “Anyone who takes a leopard, cheetah or any other kind of exotic animal out in public will face a jail term of up to six month and a fine ranging between Dh10,000 and Dh500,000.”
Possession of dangerous animals for trading purposes will be penalized with a jail term, or a fine ranging between Dh50,000 and Dh500,000 or both. People who use an animal to attack a person (who would think this is the 21st century?) will face a jail term of between three and seven years if the attack causes a physical disability. If the person is killed, the penalty will be life imprisonment.
If other minor injuries are inflicted, a prison term of not more than a year and a fine of up to Dh400,000 will be given according to the law. Also, those who use animals to terrorize people (the comedy!) will face a jail term and/or a range of fines from Dh100,000 to Dh700,000.
“Traditional pet owners” who keep dogs (how domestic!) must have a licence for their dogs from local authorities and keep them under control on a leash at all times while outside or face a fine of at least Dh10,000, but not more than Dh100,000.
*All the above are based on real incidents.