Abu Dhabi: Six pet shops have been closed down in Mina Port by the municipality for not abiding by rules and regulations regarding pet care and hygiene.
Khalifa Al Rumaithy, Head of the Slaughter House Section, Abu Dhabi Municipality (ADM), said the inspection of pet shops was supposed to take place years ago, but no one followed it up.
In the past eight months, however, a team of 16 veterinary inspectors working under Al Rumaithy carried out random weekly checks of pet shops.
"Most pet shop owners have no experience in handling animals. We have a team of four veterinarians who are specialised in educating pet shop owners with awareness programmes on how to treat pets, how to maintain a safe and healthy environment, and on sizes of cages, types of food and comfort levels for the animals," he told Gulf News.
The six pet shops were closed for two days for different purposes.
"We usually give them a two-day period to fix themselves. If they don't manage to improve we give them a warning. After a shop receives three warnings their licence is taken away. In the past eight months we haven't closed down any shops but gave out 14 warnings to 14 pet shops." One reason for closing down the six shops included misuse of the mezzanine floor which shop owners used for personal accommodation instead of using it as a storage for the animals' food and spare cages.
In some cases, the cages for cats and dogs were too small. Hamsters were not placed in wood sawdust cages as per the law and were found in cartons or on dirty newspapers. Dogs were found in aluminium cages with no sponge or cover to rest on, which injures the animal.
"The reasons are enough to close down any pet shop. The animals must be treated humanely and we will not tolerate any mistakes. We are now working on designing brochures for pet shop owners and walk-in clients with regard to how to treat animals humanely and keep a hygienic environment on the go," he said.
Last month, Al Rumaithy held an awareness programme for pet shop owners, highlighting the importance of following various rules and regulations with regard to animal cruelty and hygiene.
"Change is not easy. It involves educating not only the shop owner but the customer himself. In a lot of cases, a person would mistreat or abuse his or her dog and try to sell it to a pet shop," said Al Rumaithy.