Ready for adoption: Two Dalmatian sisters and two Dutch Shepherd sisters, all surrendered to Al Mayya K9 Kennels and Rescue Centre Organisation, UAE, with their trainers who have prepared them for new homes. The organisation, which will be taking part in the June 10 pet adoption event, says it does not charge any adoption fees. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Pets, purchased for thousands of dirhams, that have subsequently been abandoned or surrendered, are up for adoption, many of them for free, at what is being pegged as the biggest-ever adoption drive in the UAE.

Giving furry worries a new twist, the “Pet Adoption Paw-rty”, to be organised by Dubai-based PETME, will be held at Souk Al Marfa in Dubai Islands on June 10.

Pet Adoption 'Paw-rty'
When: June 10, 2 to 10pm
Where: Souk Al Marfa, Dubai Islands
Who: All pet lovers

“We will have around 10 animal welfare organisations at the event with over 100 pets for adoption. They will include dogs, including some pure breeds, cats and birds - so there's a wide choice The event, which will be held indoors in an air-conditioned environment,  will also pack in several activities like pet and people games, dog training demos, petting farms and pet expert advice,” said Shree Nair of PETME.

Shree Nair

He said while many of the pets can be adopted for free, some may carry a charge to cover vaccinations or other expenses.
According to him, there has been a sharp spike in the number of pets that have been abandoned or surrendered to animal shelters post-pandemic. This despite stringent laws that can clamp down on those who commit violations.

“A number of people bought pets during the COVID-19 period to keep them company when they were staying home. But when the restrictions were lifted and they began to go back to work or school, the pets were surrendered to animal shelters or just abandoned on the streets or in the desert as they could no longer cater to them. Many would cite the increasing costs of pet upkeep as a reason,” he explained.

What the UAE law says
According to the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), 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.
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.

Expensive buys

Ironically, a number of the abandoned or surrendered pets had been purchased by their owners for thousands of dirhams.

Mira Almarri from SMURO, a pet welfare organisation which will be taking part in the June 10 event, said, “Ten to 15 years ago, families would just abandon these pets, but in recent years, more people are surrendering the pets to animal shelters."

She said, "A good number of these dogs are of pure breed and have cost their owners a lot of money. Yet, the owners who bought them as pups either got tired of them or could not manage them once they grew up. ”

SMURO's Mira Almarri and her husband Sultan Bin Mujren with a pack of dogs up for adoption. Image Credit: Supplied

The average market rate for popular dog breeds starts anywhere from Dh5,000 to Dh6,000 and goes up to Dh25,000-Dh30,000. Some rare breeds even go for Dh70,000-Dh75,000, said Nair.

Pantelis Kovanidis, Manager and Chief Training Instructor at Al Mayya K9 Kennels and Rescue Centre Organisation, UAE, said more people need to be educated about the need to adopt pets, rather than buy them.

He said over the last four years, Al Mayya has helped rehome over 3,000 dogs between the UAE and UK. "The centre currently has around 150 dogs for adoption. They have all been either rescued or surrendered to the centre by their owners," he said, adding most of the dogs, including those that will be presented at the adoption "paw-rty", have been retrained for their future.

“We prepare these dogs to be rehomed. We do not ask for any adoption fees. Each dog that we rescue or get is assessed for its behaviour and health and dealt with accordingly. For example, we have a beautiful pair of Dalmatian sisters. They were born deaf and they require special handling. But they have been duly trained for communication and are ready for adoption."

Pantelis Kovanidis, Manager and Chief Training Instructor at Al Mayya K9 Kennels and Rescue Centre Organisation, UAE, with a German Shepherd. Image Credit: Supplied

3-3-3 rule

Kovanidis said potential dog owners would do well to understand what is called the “3-3-3 rule”.

“This is the guideline when adopting a rescued dog. Every dog is unique and has a distinct personality. They will open up and adjust differently. Give your new dog enough space and allow them to adjust at their own pace.”

The guideline essentially outlines how the dog will behave over a period of “3 days, 3 weeks and 3 months”.

Pet adoption cannot be done at a whim, it requires due preparedness: Pantelis Kovanidis Image Credit: Vijith Pullikal/Gulf News

He said in 3 days, it natural for the adopted dog to feel overwhelmed, be scared and unsure of

what is going on, not be comfortable enough to be himself, may skip food and water and will be testing the boundaries.

In 3 weeks’ time, the dog will realise that this could possibly be his forever home and get into a routine after figuring out his environment; he will feel more comfortable but behaviour issues may start showing up.

Kovanidis said it take 3 months before the dog finally gets comfortable in his home, builds trust and a true bond with the owners, sets into a routine and gains a complete sense of security with his new family.

Trina Mole, a volunteer with Furrballs Animal Welfare Organisation. Image Credit: Supplied

Ready for rehoming

Trina Mole, a volunteer with Sharjah-based Furrballs Animal Welfare Organisation, said the advent of summer will see a fresh spurt in the number of pet abandonments and surrenders. "This is because a lot of people will travel. Summer is also the time when expats relocate, and we're already getting a number of calls from people who think nothing of leaving behind their pet family members."

She said some of the dogs that come to the shelters are in a pathetic condition.

As an example, she talked of a two-year-old, yet-to-be-spayed German Shepherd. “She was in a state of severe neglect and her owners were even trying to sell her. We managed to convince them to surrender her to us. She weighed only 15kg and needed antibiotics. We got her treated and put her in boarding. She is ready for a home now.”

Similarly, another Husky mix, which came to the centre with five other dogs, skinny and anaemic, went through a course of antibiotics and started to put on weight. He is now ready for a forever home, she added.