by Jennifer Bell / The National UAE

DUBAI // Rescue workers say pets should be linked to their owners’ passports or Emirates ID, so authorities can check if an animal belongs to a resident when they leave the country.

Those who attempt to abandon their animals should then feel the full force of the law, they said.

“There is a ministry procedure for importing your pets,” said Debbie Lawson of the Middle East Animal Foundation. “You fill in enough paperwork to bring an animal here but what about when you come to leave?

“Have I closed my bank account? Have I paid my Etisalat? Have I paid my Dewa bill? All the normal exit procedures – but what about where is your pet?”

The law in Dubai requires that pets are registered and given a numbered municipality tag, renewed annually.

Ms Lawson said this tag could be easily be linked to the animal owner’s Emirates ID.

Lesley Muncey, of Feline Friends, said a better framework for linking pets to their owners would make people think twice before abandoning an animal when they leave the UAE.

“There should be some recourse for people taking on pets – a link to their ID or passport so it could be monitored more,” she said.

Ms Lawson said that Government and airlines need to make relocating pets cheaper.

Costly export permits, veterinary requirements and airfare are often excuses for abandoning a pet.

“Some airlines flying to Europe charge by the kilo of the weight of the animal and crate combined,” said Ms Lawson. “A medium-sized dog would cost about Dh5,000.”

The UAE Federal Law 16 of 2007 was put in place to protect animals from abuse and negligence. Ms Lawson said the law is comprehensive but “dormant”.

“Not because people don’t complain – but because it is not implemented,” she said.

Ms Muncey would like to see the law being enforced according to international standards, like the RSPCA does in England.