By Nick Webster
DUBAI // Pet lovers are being urged not to deal with illegal dog breeders, by a woman determined to help stop the increase in sick animals left abandoned on the streets.
Pooja Prakash volunteers with various animal welfare groups, including 38 Smiles in Dubai, and rescued an unwanted dog from her neighbour in Sharjah that was destined to be dumped in the desert.
Zoila, a six-month-old Siberian husky-cross, had been bought from a suspected unlicensed breeder in Al Ain for Dh3,500 but was covered in ticks. Her new owner wanted rid of the animal, and when Mrs Prakash heard of the situation from a maintenance worker in her shared building in Al Khan Road, she stepped in.
“I said I would take her in to try to find a new home,” she said.
“I have had to shave her fur off to treat her because she was infested with ticks and not in a good condition.
“When I called the number for the woman who sold it, she denied she was a breeder at first. When I pretended to be a buyer, she became interested and offered me any dog I wanted, including a pitbull.”
That breed is banned from being imported into the UAE. Mrs Prakash was offered a husky similar to Zoila for Dh4,500 but was also told that any kind of dog was available for order.
“The woman who had bought Zoila couldn’t cope with her, so was going to take her to the desert if she couldn’t find her a new home,” she said.
Zoila has undergone blood tests, because her vaccinations had expired so she was vulnerable to disease.
When Mrs Prakash found her a new owner, her neighbour demanded money for the dog, which was flatly refused.
Since arriving in the UAE from India in 2008, Mrs Prakash has seen a rise in the number of unwanted animals, and said illegal breeders were only adding to the problem.
Zoila has since been taken in by a Finnish woman, Tina-Maija Bergman, who was alerted to the dog’s plight via Facebook.
“I said I was interested and Pooja called me back to say we were perfect to take her on,” said the hospitality worker, who lives in Arabian Ranches.
The UAE does not permit the import of pets under the age of four months and all pets must have a rabies vaccination, which should be at least 21 days old.
A list of breeds banned for import because they are considered aggressive includes Japanese Tosa, Argentinian or Brazilian fighting dogs, the American Staffordshire terrier and any wolf-dog hybrids.
“The illegal breeding going on here is terrible,” Mrs Bergman said. “Prohibited breeds cannot be monitored if puppies are being bred illegally. I understand when it is done correctly and registered, otherwise it is a real problem.
“Breeders looking to make fast money are motivated for the wrong reasons. When there is a big litter, that just multiplies the problem. They are trading in life and that is not right.”