Dubai restaurants will now face fines if stray cats are found on their premises, a local newspaper reported on Saturday, following complaints from residents over health and safety concerns.
The emirate’s municipality said customers should notify the civic body whenever felines are spotted inside food outlets.
“Customers faced with stray cats in restaurants should notify the municipality immediately and an inspector will be responsible in assessing the situation. If he finds that the establishment has committed health and safety offences, they will be fined a minimum of Dh500,” Hashim al-Awadi, Head of Veterinary Services Section at Dubai Municipality, told Gulf News.
Restaurant managers however will not be held responsible if stray cats are not inside the restaurant, Awadi said, adding that customers have an important role to play.
“Customers should stop feeding stray cats as it encourages them to re-visit the establishment for food,” he said.
“We have a team dedicated to control stray animals, mostly cats, and they carry out a comprehensive program that includes neutering them and then releasing them back into the areas they were collected,” he said, adding that stray animals are also vaccinated against a number of diseases, according to Gulf News.
The newspaper also spoke to a Dubai resident that had to have her three-year-old son vaccinated for rabies after he was bitten by a stray cat in the city last week.
“We did not give the cats anything to eat but they kept on walking near the chairs. The moment my son got up, the cat bit him. I had a relative that died of rabies after being bitten by a puppy, and the life of my son was at risk because of the restaurant’s negligence,” Maria Cristina Mercado said.