Dubai: The UAE does not ban dangerous animals but regulates the possession, breeding and trade of these animals to licenced individuals and entities such as zoos, parks and research centres, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) clarified on Monday.
The clarification was issued to end the confusion surrounding the Federal Law No 22 of 2016, the ministry said.
“MOCCAE reiterated that individuals and entities are prohibited from owning, possessing, trading in or breeding dangerous animals, unless they can obtain a licence as a zoo, animal park, circus, breeding centre, harbouring centre or scientific research institution whose work requires the availability of dangerous animals,” the ministry said in a statement sent to Gulf News.
“To do so, they need to meet the rigorous requirements set by MOCCAE, as well as obtain the approval of the relevant local authorities in their respective emirate.”
The ministry said Law No 22 of 2016 was put in place to ensure the safety of people and property in the UAE, protecting the community from communicable diseases. It also ensures the protection of animals by preventing animal exploitation, abuse or mistreatment and safeguarding local biodiversity from invasive species and hybrid speciation.
Regularisation of status
MOCCAE pointed out that the law provided owners of animals listed in its annexes with a grace period of up to 30 days from the date of its enforcement to register their animals with the concerned authority and up to six months to regularise their status.
Those who had owned dangerous animals prior to the law’s enforcement were mandated to apply for licences as either zoos or harbouring centres. Those meeting the set requirements were granted the licences and continued to keep their animals under the supervision of the relevant authorities.
The law has stipulated penalties for animal owners who would use these dangerous animals to intimidate or attack others. Owners who allow their dangerous animals to attack others will be penalised. If the victim dies, the owner will be imprisoned between three to seven years. If the victim suffers a permanent disability, the owner will be jailed for up to one year and fined between Dh10,000 and Dh400,000.
If the attack was unintentional due to mere negligence, the animal owner will be held liable for involuntary manslaughter or accidental injury.
In all these cases, authorities will keep the animal involved in the attack until the court decides whether to confiscate it based on the results of its medical tests. The owner shall bear the expenses related to the animal’s detention.
The ministry reiterated that residents may apply for a licence to keep dogs as pets but not for those considered as “dangerous breeds” listed under Federal Law No 22. Dog owners should also be over 18 years old, be able to provide a place suitable for housing a dog, meet its basic care needs and have the knowledge of animal welfare regulations.
Failing to do so and failure to put a leash on dogs when walking outside in designated areas will make them liable to pay a fine of between Dh10,000 and Dh100,000.
Cruelty to animals is also unacceptable in the UAE and is punishable by law. Owners should not fail to offer the animal adequate nutrition, rest, shelter and veterinary care when sick, harming the animal physically, leaving it unattended for a considerable time, or keeping it confined. Anything contrary to this is considered as animal cruelty.
They can also report violations to municipal authorities.