Visitors at the Friends of Animals' dog adoption day at Al Quoz Image Credit: Xpress / Pankaj Sharma

Dubai:  Mohammad Numan, a Sudanese expat, keeps flexible job hours so he can look after the two dogs at his Dubai flat - even though they do not belong to him.

The 32-year-old Dubai Municipality worker often fosters abandoned pets for the Friends of Animals (FA) group - he once took care of two cats and two dogs at the same time.

Animal lover

"It's not always easy, but someone has to bring them in, or they will die," said Numan, who takes rejected pets under his wing until FA finds new owners.

"It's not just about giving them food or a place to stay, you've got to have a love for animals too. They've had a tough time, so you have to socialise with them. Train them to obey commands, so they're easily re-homed."

Volunteers like Numan are hard to find, FA founder Montserrat Martin said.

"Many owners simply dump pets on the street after they're not cute any more or when they want to leave the country," said Martin.

His group has rescued more than 130 dogs over the past six months. It has also saved around 100 cats, two horses and even two gazelles in the same period.

"Like everywhere else, Dubai's suffering from the ‘puppy syndrome'. Everyone wants a cute little poodle, but when pets get older, they change shape and are no longer considered fun to be with. Then they [owners] just throw them out," she said.

Martin said leaving pets at the shelter or pound was not the solution.


Slow death

"A slow death inside the cage is no life at all. We don't believe in putting them down either, unless they are terminally ill. Instead, we help find the next perfect home for your pet. But you've to give us time - around a month's notice. A week is too short," she said.

Sylvia Samuel, an airline cabin crew member who volunteers for FA, said: "Many of these pets were at death's door. When I go to interview potential new owners, I usually know right away if they're ready. You have to treat it like you're going to adopt a child."

Adopt a dog

Friends of Animals held its first dog adoption day at Doggies Palace in Al Quoz on Sunday and plans to organise more match-making events between pets and owners. Two dogs found a new home, while around five residents stepped forward to become FA volunteers and fosterers.

Dubai Municipality receives around 1,200 abandoned or lost pets every year. Another 1,000 are believed to be living rough on the streets.