Pet shops and pet boarding facilities in Dubai may be subjected to tougher inspections to detect the presence of bacteria and viruses.
"I think we should consider a method to detect whether a place is infested," said Gaith Al Falasi, Head of Inspection at Dubai Municipality.
Currently the department carries out monthly inspections of pet shops, boarding facilities and breeding facilities based on criteria that can be verified by human observation.
"I look at the space, the animals they have, food, cleanliness and other things. However, if the place is infested this will not be observed. For this kind of inspection we would need to extend to other methods," Gaith said.
Last month a couple in Dubai complained about a dog boarding facility, where her 14-month-old Chihuahua spent a couple of weeks.
"She was in perfect health and had been to the vet a week before for a checkup and a kennel cough vaccine. But when we returned to pick her up she was in terrible shape and had lost a lot of weight. When we got back home we noticed that she had a bloody diarrhea,” tells a devastated lady.
When the condition didn’t improve, the couple decided to take the pup to the vet. “They ran multiple tests on her and concluded that she had been infected by a parasite called Giardia and the virus Canine Distemper. She had to be put to sleep."
It cannot be ruled out that a dog staying at the boarding facility gets affected by other dogs, explains a dog trainer at the same facility. “Some of the dogs are suffering from psychological stress if they are away from home and this sometimes weakens their immune system and cause different kinds of diseases."
The problem may be more than a matter of immunity. According to several Dubai-based vets, pets can pick up infections from boarding facilities, suggesting the places might be infested.
However, Gaith says, “The last time we checked [it] was graded sufficiently, there seemed to be no problem,” and adds that he too has heard the assumption. "This is the second time I hear about an incident at this place. But our department has not received any complaints about the place before."
It is, therefore, important that people file a complaint when they encounter problems like these, thinks Gaith. “If we hear assumptions like these more frequently it will be worth developing a system that is able to detect infestation.
“I have had this idea for some time, and we should consider it. It is complicated, but possible.”