I have a poodle, your dog looks good. Do you want to pair?
At least once a week Jackie Ratcliffe receives a request on Facebook, not to become friends with her but to get acquainted with her dog. "They see my dog and think it would pair with their dog."
Dogs of different breeds, mix breeds with different breeds, or breeds that are not ready to be bred; the sky is the limit for some dog breeders in the UAE.
According to Jackie, who is chairperson of K9 Friends in Dubai, dog breeding is big in the country.
Meanwhile, the dog population is increasing by the year, and volunteers have their hands full trying to accommodate a safe haven for all dogs. Dog shelters are fully occupied, and volunteers receive new request every day.
"There is a big problem here. There are just too many dogs. Knowing this, I would not encourage anybody to buy a dog, but to look for adoption. We have so many dogs that need a new home," says Sarina Koerth, who co-runs Dubai Animal Welfare Society.
Sarina and many of her colleagues look with despair at the continuous production of dog breeders. "While we are running around trying to minimise the population, others are running around to increase it," she says frustratingly.
However, dog breeding is considered a legal activity in Dubai and for many a hobby, in which they see no harm. "There are people who breed for the love of the breed. You cannot stop people from wanting a specific breed," argues Montserrat Martin, founder of Friends of Animals in Dubai.
"But there are also those who breed because it is a lucrative business. Sometimes these people do not know anything about breeding or about the dog. There are people who would breed a Chiwawa with a Labrador."
According to volunteers, breeding should be controlled at the very least. But according to Hisham, a vet at Dubai Municipality, this is difficult to achieve. "People do not need a licence to breed a dog, so we cannot regulate this activity. We cannot be aware of every dog that is bred in the emirate."
The story changes when the breeder turns breeding into business. For this, the breeder needs a licence, and when the licence is there, the activity is monitored by Dubai Municipality. However, many if not more breeders act without a licence.
"There are many ads online every day; illegal dog trade is very big here. Because it is illegal, advertisers might write that the dogs are for adoption. Once somebody calls, the price will be mentioned," knows Sarina.
"The problem is not only with the breeders. There is a demand too; people ask breeders to deliver puppies of a certain breed. Or they have a dog and approach me with the question if we can mix our dogs. All I want to say is: if anybody needs a dog, please come to us. We have many dogs looking for a new owner."