Expats are the main contributors to a large number of abandoned pets in the UAE.
"A lot of focus is on the local population when it comes to animal cruelty, but in fact a lot of expats are guilty of abandoning pets," said Lesley Tailor, a member of Animal Welfare Al Ain recently in an interview with this website.
When it comes to abandoned pets, expats are the core contributors to a problem that has been witnessed for years in the UAE, thinks Lesley.
"Expats relocate, and they do not always take their pets with them. When they leave they try to find a foster home or someone to adopt their pet only a couple of weeks before. This search should start at least six months before they leave!" says a frustrated Lesley.
"Charity organisations cannot just foster every pet, or find a new home within this time frame."
If you ask her, expats should anticipate homing a pet in the first place. "When you know that you will leave this country eventually, and you are not willing to relocate the pet, you should not take a pet in the first place," she says.
Ayesha Kelaif, who is working to establish the Dubai Animal Rescue Centre and currently hosts 260 animals in her private villa agrees.
"People can be so inconsiderate when it comes to having pets. They purchase a pet, and when they want to leave the country they want to get rid of it. Animals have feelings, and get very attached to you. You have to think of that before you buy a pet.
"I think what plays a role are the costs of relocating a pet," says Lesley. Many people get the paperwork done by a third party, because it is a time consuming procedure. These third parties might ask Dh3,000. It will only cost you Dh400 when you do it yourself."
Both Lesley and Ayesha receive a lot of phone calls of people trying to find shelter for the pet they cannot bring with them. However, finding a new home is not as easy as it may sound, and not always can these organisations shelter the pets themselves.
"I receive about 8 to 10 phone calls a day, from people who want to leave the country and find a shelter for their pet. But I cannot host anymore pets, I have only the space of a private villa," tells Ayesha.
"When I say this, people often get very rude. They ask 'aren't you supposed to recue animals?', as if it is my responsibility now. It is their responsibility to think of leaving the country. These people should have taken that responsibility when they bought the pet."
"A lot of people are unrealistic and ignorant,” adds Lesley. They do not think the situation through, and when they leave their pet ends up on the street. Last year we found a dog abandoned in an empty apartment!"