The United Arab Emirates is well known for its luxurious lifestyle and fascination for exotic pets. In the UAE, there are people who own animals such as lions, tigers, or chimpanzees. Existing laws in the UAE prohibit the possession of dangerous animals.
Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) mentions that you can keep dangerous animals only when you obtain a license as a zoo, animal park, circus, breeding center, harboring center, or scientific research institutions that require the availability of dangerous animals for work-related matters. According to this law, a dangerous animal is described as,
“A dangerous animal is one that can cause harm or damage to humans or other animals.”
It is not easy to get a license to possess animals that are marked dangerous by the government. You need to meet the comprehensive requirements mentioned by MOCCAE and local authorities. Even for the transportation of such animals, you need relevant approvals from local authorities.
What does the law say about the possession and trade of dangerous animals?
In the United Arab Emirates, Federal Law no. 22 of 2016 regulates the possession, trade, or breeding of predatory, dangerous, and semi-dangerous animals. The law’s objective is to regulate the ownership, possession, trading, and breeding of dangerous animals while protecting humans and other animals. The potential harm from these animals can be attack and transmission of diseases. The law also ensures that these animals get proper care and treatment by the owners or caregivers.
Article 1: contains the definition of different terms of this law:
- Predatory: Animals that kill or eat other animals.
- Dangerous: Animals that can cause harm or damage to humans and other animals.
- Semi dangerous: Animals that may not be dangerous but have the tendency to become aggressive and cause harm to humans and other animals.
Article 3: The law prohibits any person, natural and legal, from owning or possessing dangerous animals in the UAE.
Article 4: The facility licenses for possessing dangerous animals are granted only to selected agencies such as the zoo, animal parks, etc. The government, federal and local authority, or military authority are exempted from the licensing condition.
Article 5: The licensed facilities must obtain prior consent before organizing an exhibition, competition, or shows and transporting dangerous animals. For transportation purposes, the facility needs to take approval from MOCCAE and ensure the safety and comfort of the animals.
Article 6: The licensed facilities need to carry out a list of obligations for getting the license.
- Obtain insurance from the licensed insurance agency against the risks of dangerous animals.
- Providing healthcare and immunization to dangerous animals. Maintain the record of their vaccination and medical history.
- Must provide a safe and comfortable living facility to the animals.
- Feeding the animals age and type appropriate food and in sufficient quantity.
- Provide necessary training to employees to handle and take care of dangerous animals.
Article 8: If you find an abandoned or stray dangerous animal, you must immediately inform local authorities, MOCCAE, or your nearest police station. Emergency reports can be made on 999.
Article 9: If you become aware of the existence of a dangerous animal with a non-licensed person, you shall immediately report it to MOCCAE and the nearest police station.
Article 10: If you find a stray or abandoned dangerous animal, then you must report it. Any person authorized to keep dangerous animals needs to inform the authorities in some situations such as:
- Finding an animal suffering from infectious or epidemic diseases or suspecting such infection.
- Death of an animal.
- Transfer of an animal to other facilities.
- Loss of an animal.
- Finding out that a person or animal has been injured or killed because of an animal attack.
- Desire to abandon an animal in a situation where the facility is shown an inability to protect, harbour, or provide care to such animal.
Article 16: No one must move around with a dangerous animal outside the licensed facility.
The laws related to possession of Dogs
Article 12 to 15 covers the regulation for the possession of dogs. Several breeds of dogs are considered dangerous in Dubai, and owners are prohibited from possessing, trading, or breeding such categories of dogs. To own a dog, you need to get a license from competent authorities. Whenever the dogs are taken out from the boundaries of their shelter or home, they need to be put on a leash. The species of dogs classified as dangerous are mentioned in Annex (2). They are:
- Pit Bulls or hybrids
- Mastiff Dogs or hybrids
- Tosa or hybrids
- Rottweilers or hybrids
- Doberman Pinschers
- Presa Canario
Punishment and Fines
Penalties and fines related to violation of any of the guidelines laid down by Federal Law no. 22 of 2016 are covered under Articles 17 to 24.
Article 17: Anyone who uses a dangerous animal to attack a human being might have to face serious fines and penalties. If such an attack causes the death of the victim, then the perpetrator may receive life imprisonment. In case of permanent disabilities, the convict may receive a jail term of a minimum of 3 years or a maximum of 7 years. If the degree of seriousness is lower, then the convict can be fined anywhere between AED 10,000 to AED 400,000.
Article 18: If anyone uses a dangerous animal to terrorize people, they can get a fine of not less than AED 100,000 to AED 700,000.
Article 19: Trafficking of dangerous animals can invite a fine of a minimum of AED 50,000 and a maximum of AED 500,000.
Article 20: Violation of the guidelines mentioned in Articles 3, 5, 10, 14, and 16 can invite penalties that involve both fines and jail terms. Whoever violates the law can get a fine of no less than AED 10,000 and no more than 500,000 or a jail term for a period no less than one month to no more than 6 months. The convict may get both a fine and jail term in severe cases.
Article 21: If any person violates the guidelines of Article 6 i.e., the obligation to possess a dangerous animal, can be fined for no less than 10,000 and no more than 500,000.
Article 22: If anyone violates the guidelines mentioned to possess, trade, or breed dogs, they shall be fined for no less than AED 10,000 and no more than AED 100,000.
All dangerous animals in UAE must bear a permanent identification tag. If caught without such tags, the authorities have every jurisdiction to confiscate such animals. The possessors then have to pay the costs of detention, without which the animal is not handed over. If the period of detention exceeds 10 days, then the animals are disposed of. The owners cannot claim compensation. When an animal attacks a human, it is kept under detention. The animal may undergo certain medical tests to ensure its fitness and be kept in a shelter. The possessor has to bear all the expenses.
There is a special division in Dubai that collaborates with the Dubai municipality. Together they confiscate non-licensed dangerous animals and transfer them to their natural habitats or licensed centers.
The list of dangerous animals mentioned in Annex 2 are as follows:
|All types except for the allowed dog pets.
|All types expect to domesticate cat and hybrid cats
|All types of Family Viverridae
|All types of bats
|All types of Pangolin
|All types except domestic hamsters, guinea pigs, rats, and mice.
|Odd toed Ungulates
|All types of Zebras, Przewalski horse, African wild donkey, onager, Tibetan wild ass
|Even toed Ungulates
|All types expect domestic cattle, goats, and sheep.
|Wild Bacterian camel, llma, alpaca, vicuna and guanaco
|Lizards, snakes, and vipers
Anyone who fancies acquiring an exotic or dangerous animal must refer to the above-mentioned list and related prohibitions. Cheetah, tigers, and lions were considered a status symbol just a few years back. The prohibition has helped curb the poaching of these animals from their natural habitats.
Along with this ban, the government encourages the public to join voluntary work related to animal protection. Moreover, MOCCAE has signed an agreement with Emirates Wildlife Society and Emirates Park Zoo to encourage animal protection.