To keep or not to keep... having a pet in UAE isn't your decision alone

Keeping a pet isn’t quite a personal decision. At least, not in this part of the world. Anyone from your building landlord, to your neighbours, to your pet shop does have a say in it.

So, before you decide on whether to keep one or not, you need to get the approval from a host of others in your neighbourhood.

In Dubai, it is mandatory to secure permission to keep an animal in the property from your landlord. Most tenancy contract forbids keeping an animal on board, so it is important to seek their endorsement before signing on the dotted line.

Nicky, a single lady, who owns two dogs, had to get authorisation from her landlord to house them in her 1-bedroom apartment in Silicon Oasis. “There is a strict ‘no pets’ policy in my building, but my landlord was obliging.”

There are specific areas in Dubai that strictly follow a “no pets” policy. In fact, many residential areas are still unsure about their stand. “Some areas in Mirdif claim to be pet-friendly, but the fine print reads that it is only for fish tanks and not for furry animals,” says Carol.

The conflict arose after pet owners failed to clean up and monitor their animals in public spaces.

Jumeriah Beach Residence, however, is clear about not allowing pets in their area stating it is purely a cleanliness and hygiene issue. They even asked their residents to move out their pets.

There are even areas like Dubai Marina and Palm Jumeriah that follow the same policy.

In fact, you can’t even take your dog to a public park, beach or on public transportation.

Some areas that do offer pet-friendly environments that have easy access to pet stores and veterinary clinics are The Greens, Arabian Ranches and Green Community, among others.

Although landlords have their say on the issue of ownership, very few residential complexes offer good facilities to keep the pets. “In our gated community in Mirdif there are designated walking paths that are helpful. But, if you go towards Sharjah there are no provisions,” adds Neeti.

Also, some pet companies exert discretion while selling pets to residents renting single bed or double bed apartments. They prefer to give the animals to villa owners, because that way the animals have access to protected outdoors as well.

And, this could be why most residents prefer to keep cats in their apartments as they are easier to manage and stay indoors without much fuss. “My cat stays at home without any trouble. Her food and water is kept out while I go to work, and it’s enough to keep her happy till I get back,” tells Nadia, who houses her cat Romeo in JLT.

An official at the Feline friends, non-profit organisation, stresses that they don’t impose any restrictions on families seeking to adopt cats. “We don’t make any reservations about how big or small a person’s residence is. We only advice people about whether to adopt a kitten or a cat, depending on their work culture,” stresses Lissie.

“For single individuals, we ask them to take two kittens, instead of one, so that they don’t feel lonely and restless. Otherwise they might come home to a shredded sofa.”

The importance, if any, is on whether individuals are serious about taking care of their feline friends. “During summer, we are inundated with calls about cats being abandoned by owners who are away on vacation. It’s sad to see how, they just pack and leave without sparing a thought about their cats.

“Surely no one leaves behind their babies. And, it’s a common practice among every nationality. So, if anyone takes a cat, it should be for life. It’s just awful to see them abandoned.”

 In Dubai, every pet must be vaccinated and micro-chipped before registering with the municipality with a unique number tag.

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