Life & Style | Pets

Home again: Emotional reunion

11-year-old UK girl reunites with pet dog her family had to leave behind in Dubai six months back

  • By Sharmila Dhal, Senior Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 November 24, 2011

  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • Ooverjoyed: Alyssa’s parents captured the reunion on video, which has become a YouTube hit, with 36,000 views in just six days.

Dubai: There was a dog's chance of it happening. But an abandoned German Shepherd cross who was 20 minutes from being put down in Dubai was reunited with its owners thousands of miles away in the UK.

Even as videos of the touching reunion of Holly with the Smith family in Hampshire have gone viral, UAE animal rescue groups that made it possible said the dog flew aboard an Emirates flight on November 17 after an equally dramatic turn of events.

Raghad Auttabashi of Al Rahma Animal Welfare Society, Abu Dhabi told XPRESS the pet was adopted by Darren and Claudia Smith, former residents of Dubai, two years ago. In May 2011, Darren lost his job and had to return to the UK. They were forced to leave Holly behind with a family but had every intention of getting her to the UK after the quarantine period. In fact, they had secured her pet passport and had her blood tests done before they left.

But as it turned out, Holly ran away from its new owners. Given up as an ‘abandoned dog', she was due to be put down at 1pm on an August afternoon.

Luckily, an animal lover who spotted her on ‘death row' posted a Facebook message with an adoption appeal. Raghad decided to take in the pet. "We managed to save her 20 minutes before she could be put down."

Kayla, as the dog was named, was cleaned and vaccinated. Shortly after, Raghad got in touch with Montserrat Martin of Friends of Animals (FOA), another rescue group, to help re-home the dog. Montserrat took pictures of her and posted an ad on the FOA website and an online forum.

Five weeks later, she received the most unexpected call; it was from Claudia Smith in Hampshire who claimed Kayla was her Holly! "Weeping like a child, Claudia said she had no doubt about Holly's identity. The conviction was touching," said Montserrat, who put her on to Raghad.

The next thing they knew they were all working to string Holly's papers together and fly her to Hampshire where the Smiths prepared to give their daughter Alyssa a lifetime's surprise.

"I grumbled about the money [the reunion cost them Dh7,450] but the look on my daughter's face was a priceless family moment," Darren Smith told the BBC.

Comments (11)

Share your views.
  1. Added 12:48 November 24, 2011

    Is there nothing more important happening in this country to publish such a news?

    katy, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 12:45 November 24, 2011

    For sure there should be better news to make the headlines.

    Zahid Siddiqui, Ajman, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 12:11 November 24, 2011

    Very touching.......couldn't hold back my tears........

    Genny, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 11:58 November 24, 2011

    I'm speechless! Just look at the little girl's face filled with tears of joy! Real love for her pet! God bless!

    Tareeq Yahiya, Abudhabi, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 11:54 November 24, 2011

    This is silly news. There are billions of people who love dogs. What type of news is this?

    Younas Khan, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 11:48 November 24, 2011

    It's interesting how XPRESS turns every YouTube video featured in its articles as 'hit'. 36,0000 or 50,000 are not hits. They need to reach atleast 1 million to be anywhere close to a hit.

    Ashraf Sheikh, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 10:32 November 24, 2011

    This video made me weep! As a muslim we are not allowed to keep dogs in our house, but I love dogs and wish I could adopt a puppy. Ir's an emotional story, but with a happy ending!

    Sara, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 10:20 November 24, 2011

    This was a lovely reunion. Thanks to the animal lover who arrived at the last minute and saved the dog. I too am an animal lover and would like to register myself with some animal organisation wherein I could save these creatures. Thanks for this lovely article!

    Lata, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 09:54 November 24, 2011


    kadija, sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 09:53 November 24, 2011

    Wow! I'm moved by the headline. Was a bit busy to read the whole story but still I am shocked to see it as the top story -- #1 -- on Gulf News. People are dying in this world... there are so many other things that deserve more attention of the media....

    junaid, abu dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  11. View more comments

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