The Law on Regulation of Ownership of Dangerous Animals imposes a life sentence for owners whose pet kills a person. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Abu Dhabi: Dog owners must obtain a licence for their pets and keep them on a leash at all times when in public under a new law approved by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in December.

Those who fail to buy a licence for their dogs from local authorities and keep them under control will face a fine of at least Dh10,000, but not more than Dh100,000, according to the Law on Regulation of Ownership of Dangerous Animals, published in the official gazette and which took effect immediately.

“All dogs are required to be restrained by a collar and leash when on public property,” the law states. A leash (also called a lead, lead line or tether) is a rope or similar material attached to the neck or head of an animal for restraint or control.

A fine of up to Dh100,000 also applies to owners who do not vaccinate their dogs against dangerous diseases. Owners will have up to mid-June to buy the necessary licence and vaccinations.

Local authorities across the UAE will keep records of licensed dogs, including details of the pets and their owners, according to the law.

The law bans dealing in and ownership of all types of wild and domesticated but dangerous animals.

Only zoos, wildlife parks, circuses, breeding and research centres are entitled to keep wild or exotic animals. The public is urged to report cases of wild animals being kept as pets.

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 penalised 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 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.

Under the new law, those who use animals to terrorise people will face a jail term and/or a range of fines from Dh100,000 to Dh700,000.

In addition to banning the unlicensed ownership of these wild and other dangerous animals, the law also outlines stricter records of wild or dangerous domesticated or undomesticated animals. It also calls for all imported animals to be registered and carry official certificates.

The new law states that most wild animals cannot be reared as pets since they are vulnerable to unpredictable behavioural changes that could go out of control.

It also details measures for the registration of all types of imported animals, including Cites (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) certificates and official vet certificates issued in the UAE.

The law does not revoke any tougher penalties which may be imposed on violators as stated in the Penal Code or other laws.