Dog at a veterinary clinic. For illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Agency

Dubai: Animal owners in the UAE must abide by newly mandated animal welfare regulations handed down by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) on Wednesday.

Failure to properly care for animals will be punishable under the revised regulations, which come under Federal Law No. 16 of 2007 on animal welfare, and its amendments in Federal Law No. 18 of 2016.

The regulations — in line with global animal welfare standards — comprise nine articles that outline responsibilities for animal owners, health and technical standards of animal facilities, animal nutrition, and guidelines for loading, transporting, and unloading animals.

To ensure the regulations are all-inclusive, the ministry held multiple workshops with government and private sector stakeholders.

Article 2 of the regulations details the duties of animal owners, including assuming full responsibility for the animals that depend on them for survival, and not abandoning them under any circumstances. Should they no longer wish to keep the animals in their possession, they must hand them over to the relevant authorities.

Animal owners also need to hire a sufficient number of qualified personnel to look after the animals, and provide proper shelter, food, and specialised vet care to keep the animals healthy. They must also maintain records of the animals’ genetic lineage, nutrition, health, productivity, and daily routine.

The article labels certain acts — such as failing to offer the animal adequate nutrition, rest, and shelter; harming the animal physically, or keeping it confined — as animal cruelty, punishable by law.

The same applies if they overwork draft animals without consideration for their age and health condition. Animal owners are also considered in violation of the law if they neglect to follow the rules of humane slaughter, or if they use animals in a way that goes against their nature in art and entertainment performances, in pranks, or in staged animal fights.

In addition, they are banned from administering growth-promoting drugs and steroids to animals, or adding illegal additives to their feed.

Saif Mohammad Al Shara, Assistant Undersecretary for the Sustainable Communities Sector and Acting Assistant Undersecretary for the Food Diversity Sector at MOCCAE, said: “The UAE is strongly committed to animal welfare, which holds significant value in Islamic beliefs and culture. Our role at MOCCAE is to develop a legislative framework for animal protection and biodiversity preservation.”

As part of the law, Article 3 prohibits the use of electroshock devices (cattle prods) and sharp tools in handling animals, as well as poking animals in sensitive areas to get them to move.

Meanwhile, Article 4 defines the health and technical standards for barns, cages, and stables, stating that they should be safe, sterile, and adequate for the species, gender, age, size, and weight of the animals. The article also stipulates that animal owners must use approved methods to dispose off animal carcasses.

As for Article 6, it regulates the processes of loading, transporting, and unloading of animals, including obtaining animal transport permits from local authorities.

Executive regulations comprise 9 articles that outline:

■  The responsibilities of animal owners

■ Health and technical standards of animal facilities

■ Animal nutrition guidelines

■ Conditions for loading, transporting, and unloading animals