Dubai: India has imposed a ban people bringing pets into the country.
According to revamped baggage rules, only those relocating to India after two years of continuous stay abroad will be allowed to bring two pets aboard international flights from now on.
For years authorities let anyone flying to India to check in two pets as luggage with proper health certificates.
Animal traffickers have been misusing this rule by pretending to be tourists and some foreigners have also been known to sell animals to breeders in India on the pretext of having a holiday there.
Many in the UAE say the move will go a long way to curbing international animal trafficking and duty-free imports of exclusive breeds into Indian homes.
“This will stop cruelty against pet animals. Since they cannot always express their pain and discomfort, it our duty to ensure their safety,” says Dubai animal rights activist Aysha Kelaif.
Kelaif, who has been running the Dubai Animal Rescue Centre (DARC) for 17 years, usually gives rescued animals to proper families for free. However, she’s always done so with her heart in her mouth.
“It will break my heart to see if one of my animals hasn’t had proper care. And what can be worse is to see them being sold for profit in a faraway country,” she says, adding countries need to get tough on animal laws.
A representative of a Dubai pet-handling company who wished to remain anonymous says this phenomenon became an “in thing” several years ago after a mobile services company launched their now famous “You & I” campaign.
The pug that “followed a boy everywhere he went” suddenly became the nation’s breed of choice. Indians, he says, were desperate to own the best looking pug, whatever it took.
Others like the Pomeranian, beagle and golden retriever have also been in demand among Indian expatriates, according to another Dubai-based pet company, EuroPets.
“The new laws are an encouragement for Indian people to purchase their pets from Indian breeders,” says Kinan Bran, Managing Director.
While this does go a long way to rooting out illegal and unethical treatment of pets, some genuine pet lovers say the move could hurt them.
Mother of two Atashi Gupta shivers at the thought of having to leave behind her two Mini Maltese should the need arise.
“I’ve had Lucky and Star for over seven years now and they have become my family ever since my children moved out. I can’t imagine a law that could separate us.”
Natasha Thomas, a Dubai-based radio news presenter who owns a mixed breed bulldog, knows new laws are on her side, but not necessarily on her friend’s.
“It’s a great move, but what about those who’ve more than two dogs? I have a friend who owns three. Where is he going to the leave the third behind and why should he be forced to?” she asks.
Difficult it may be for the officials, but it isn’t really impossible to tell an animal lover and a smuggler apart.
What do you think about the new rule?
Should other countries adopt rules like these as a global effort to curb animal trafficking?