When Christopher Fourie relocated to Dubai in June 2021, neither he, nor his beloved dogs, Maverick and Cleo thought for a second that they wouldn’t be reunited till almost six-months later…
“I left South Africa in July 2021 and travelled with my four rescue cats, two African Grey’s and my French Bulldog Hugo to Dubai,” he says.
However, due to the UAE’s ‘banned dog’ policy at the time, the family’s other two dogs had to stay behind in South Africa.
“I had to make the heart-breaking decision to place Maverick, my five-year old Rottweiler adopted from the Rottweiler Rescue Centre in South Africa, and Cleo, my adopted Great Dane, into kennels in June 2021, as I set off to complete two weeks Quarantine in Zanzibar before entering Dubai.”
“From the day we decided to move to the UAE, we intended to find a way of obtaining special permission to bring them into the country. We have tried everything, sending letters pleading for leniency and compassion to the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) website, even with specific emails addressed to the Minister. But, as each day moved on, we were beginning to lose hope,” he says.
The problem for Christopher was that Maverick and Cleo were, until November 2021, classed as banned breeds by the MOCCAE. Back in 2016, the UAE issued an extensive list of dog breeds that could not be imported or owned in the country, and this included Rottweilers and Great Danes.
Christopher says, “every country has their rules and regulations with regards to the importing of animals, and the Rottweiler and Great Dane were part of a group of animals that were placed on the UAE’s list of ‘banned breeds.’ The reasons behind this decision is not known, but we assume it could be due to people using them in illegal dog fighting, we simply don’t know.”
However, good news arrived for the family in November, when the UAE revised and significantly reduced the list of banned dogs, in the process removing both the Rottweiler and the Great Dane from the list.
“We found out about the changes on Wednesday 8th December and simply couldn’t believe it! We raced around and got the travel quote from Equitrans Logistics sorted by the 12th, the import permit was issued on 13th, and they departed Johannesburg on the 20th December!”
“We just couldn’t believe we would have them here by Christmas. The delay between issuing the permit and flying them out, was simply down to flight availability on Emirates. They finally arrived in the UAE on the 21st.”
Christopher says, “when Cleo heard my voice she was so excited and couldn’t wait to get out of her carrier. Maverick was not too sure what was going on, however when we took him out of his carrier he was elated. When the DNATA staff saw them come out of the carriers they cautiously moved away seeing this ‘mini horse’ and her posse emerge and begin running around like crazy, happy animals. We now truly feel our family is complete in our new home.”
“We’re a family that rescues and feeds a colony of cats and dogs in the UAE, many of which have been left out on the street by their owners. In fact, we have already adopted two more cats since we arrived in Dubai. As such, we continually advocate for people to make financial provision to relocate their pets when they have to leave their country of residence.”
“For us, having made that provision, yet still not be able to move them, has been a hard pill to swallow. Initially we thought it would only be short term, but as the months dragged on, we started to lose hope in finding a solution. It has been a rough six months for us as well as our pets, as we searched for options to bring them to the UAE. Every month we kept thinking, ‘just one more month,’ to see if we can reach out to another person to help us obtain special permission to bring them in,” he says.
“The reunion was special knowing that they are finally in the UAE with us in our home and no longer in the kennels and our family is complete for Christmas!”
“Since their arrival they have been to the beach for the first time. Watching them digging in the sand and chasing each other around in the water has brought us so much joy knowing the uncertainty is finally over.”
Christopher is quick to note, “we couldn’t have done this without the team at Equitrans Logistics handling all our import requirements, as well as coordinating and bringing this all together especially being there to clear them 1:30am in the morning!”
“I would also like to thank Ralun Kennel & Cattery in Kempton Park South Africa who have been excellent in hosting Maverick and Cleo, by sending us regular updates throughout their stay. And also Duncan from Pets Travel who managed to get us a quote, make the relevant bookings, get all the relocation arrangements sorted out, get them loaded safely and ship them to us before Christmas, really, your professionalism was a blessing. Thank You!”
Banned Dogs in the UAE
In November 2021, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) significantly reduced the number of dog breeds banned in the UAE, however four types still remain, these are:
Pit Bull types: Staffordshire terrier, American Pit Bull, American Bully Pit Bull
Mastiff types: Brazilian, Argentine, Tibetan, South African, Italian, Indian, Bullmastiff
The Japanese Tosa and the Perro de Presa Canario
However, according to the update, these breeds can be permitted should they be employed as service animals, emotional support animals or for other medical purposes. Yet obtaining permission to import these breeds requires the owner to provide a record from the training centre where the dog was trained and suitable medical records as to why he/she requires the animal.
If people are found to be importing or breeding these dogs, they can expect a fine between 10,000 and 700,000 Dirhams, plus a possible jail sentence and confiscation of the animal.
For pet relocation advice, information and booking visit Equitrans Pets here.