IMPORTING & SELLING

written by Natalia Dolidze, owner of Pets Habitat LLC (natalia@petshabitat.com)

Please also read our FAQ page for even more details on our reasons, ethics and policies.

Why do we import pets and why should you buy a pet from Pets Habitat?

How many other pet stores do you know to start their business out of sheer necessity to support their ongoing rescue efforts for abandoned cats and dogs? Please read About Us section for more insight as to how Pets Habitat concept took place many years ago… Pets Habitat LLC has been rooted by passion, and it remains devoted to the animals well-being. Strict protocol is in place when it comes to the health, care and comfort of our pets. Our business has not been left in hands of uninformed, ignorant staff to do as they please, to chat around while animals are being overlooked and neglected. Our Pets Habitat team is knowledgeable, professional, experienced and are equally driven by passion and compassion towards animals. Just come in and chat with any one of us to see the difference and feel free to compare us to other pet stores…

Now let’s face the facts: there is less than a handful of serious, ethical dog breeders within UAE. There is no kennel club, where any locally bred puppies may be checked and registered. Majority of expatriate population has neither time nor desire to get into serious breeding programs with its share of time consumption, vet bills and other expenses, not to mention the degree of uncertainty while being expat. Lack of proper space and local weather conditions are among other contributing factors as to why people don’t seriously breed dogs in UAE. As such, you can only very occasionally buy a locally bred puppy within UAE from an ethically responsible breeder after having seen the mother, the father and the puppies as you would in most countries back home.

In this case, when most puppies are imported from various countries based on expats demand of “normality” to have a family pet, we want to do it the right way! You, as a buyer, deserve some assurance that the puppy you are considering to buy is from a healthy, home raised environment, and has not been picked up from a “puppy mill” or a “puppy farm”, or any other similar commercial setup, where multiple number of animals are being bred in large numbers, restrained in small cages or dirty quarters, lacking elementary medical care and essential human compassion. In my line of business, unfortunately, I had to witness many such commercial breeding facilities mainly for dogs in various countries, including UAE. They are a sad statement of lack of humanity for sake of monetary gains, human cruelty towards the closest companion animal for easy profit. As owner of Pets Habitat, I am proud to have been adopting many stray cats and dogs since 1996, as well as having experience with several parrot species, small exotic pets, variety of snakes and other reptiles for over two decades before even opening this pet shop. I WILL NEVER SUPPORT PUPPY MILLS OR FARMS and WILL NOT TOLERATE ANY FORM OF CRUELTY TOWARDS ANIMALS!

Aside of the very obvious ethical reasons, it is a well proven fact: home bred and raised puppies and kittens are incomparably more social, healthy and make better family pets than those raised in commercial farm settings with minimal human contact or veterinary care. The fact that our puppies are from home based background is clearly evident from their detailed health report, their friendly disposition and social behavior towards humans and other pets. We invite you to come and experience this difference first hand at our store. You will notice clear contrast in our puppies compared to many other stores: our puppies are explicitly happy to see and greet you, they are eager to be picked up by you or by our staff, they are trying to win your attention with all they have. They never exhibit apprehensive tendencies or aggression towards humans, hostility towards other canines and other pets, and they never shy back to the furthest darkest corner of the pan! Even if you have the most limited knowledge of animals, but you have seen other stores to compare – this is be the most apparent observation, distinguishing our puppies from those in other pet stores.

We further support the fact that our puppies are from ethical background by providing both parents’ photos and any other details requested, we disclose breeder’s name and his/her contact info (easily verified by phone call or visit) after purchase of the pet. All original pedigrees of the puppies or pedigree copies of the parents are fully traceable online. We know exactly from who and from where each one of our animals comes from, and how they reach our store from the time they leave the breeder’s home, and we are happy to share this information with you if you are interested to know.

I would rather not comment on how some other pet stores operate in Dubai, but here is a glimpse of the stringent process and policies we, Pets Habitat, have put into place, and we follow these as religiously as humanly possible. Please read and be assured: the puppy you take home from Pets Habitat is more likely to be a trouble-free pet than from any other source in UAE.

How we select our puppies

We will use the example of puppies here below for ease of writing, however, please note, the process of importing kittens is exactly the same.

In the past years we used to involve some highly reliable and ethical people to work with us in EU. Those were vets, biology field professors and passionate breeders, for whom rearing and exporting puppies was as much a joy, a hobby as a viable extra income.

However, we have decided to take the matters into our own hands from the very beginning to the very end to eliminate any margin for error that may be caused by involvement of another person. My husband and I decided to put extra efforts to select every litter ourselves directly from the breeders located within EU. It is a full time, often round-the-clock work to shortlist, contact and communicate with various breeders, to identify genuine ethical breeder vs commercial trader, to meet, see and examine the puppies (even while within EU, we often must drive for 8-12 hours only for a hope of a good quality litter), discuss the export process with the breeder and to reserve selected puppies if chosen by us. It also often happens that the drive and effort made turns out not being worthy, only for us to recognise commercial breeding setup of someone we felt could have been potentially a good breeder to lack passion, ethics and concern towards the animals’ health and well-being. In such cases we must just walk away and accept time/money loss. We also frequently hear “no” from legitimate breeders too, as not everyone wants their puppies to be exported out of EU.

  • So once we are lucky to find, select and convince the right breeder to work with us, we then handpick the puppies destined to travel to Dubai. The puppies must continue to stay with their mom at the breeder’s home to reach the minimum allowed age for import into UAE as per current Rules and regulations of MOCCAE.
  • The breeder and we must complete all the required documentation for the export and import processes. The vet checks the puppies in the meantime to rule out any health issue left unnoticed. If any concern is observed, the puppy will be returned to the breeder for treatment and will not be exported to us. This is also the time when any required vaccinations are done and/or repeated, including mandatory Rabies vaccine, internal and external antiparasite treatment is administered precautionary as per UAE laws.
  • We prefer to transport our puppies to Dubai with direct Emirates airline flights whenever possible. As per EU regulations, we require involvement of EU agent to reserve suitable flight and complete the booking confirmation.
  • At the time of export, the breeder will bring the puppies to airport few hours in advance to finish required paperwork and mandatory airport procedures to ready puppies for their journey to Dubai.
  • Our puppies always travel in large size newly purchased crates, strictly following IATA regulations. The animals are meticulously cared for at airport holding areas in EU.
  • Currently, we import mostly from Italy, mainly based on where we can communicate with the breeders directly in their native language. We also prefer seeking puppies within EU due to Emirates Airline well established routes network and shorter flying times from EU to Dubai.
  • Upon arrival to Dubai our puppies are collected immediately at all hours of the night or day, following UAE mandatory live animal import procedures, including veterinary inspection at Sky Cargo / Quarantine Section of Dubai airport. Our puppies are never left unattended, waiting to be picked up. Our responsible staff are always at the airport ahead of time for the comfort of our animals.

Please note, all above listed points have on-going associated costs involved: starting from phone bills to speak to multitude of people to identify true genuine breeders, to the travel costs to meet them, then breeders’ high prices for their litters (no reputed established breeders within western/central EU will sell their much loved and prized puppies at Euro 500 each or below, please be realistic!), puppy boarding charges while waiting to reach permitted to travel age at breeder’s residence, vet bills, export documentation costs, IATA crates and agent fees, further ground transport and air transport costs, UAE import permits and release license in Dubai for every arriving animal, and, finally, not to forget the ever soaring Euro against AE Dirham conversion.

Upon arrival in UAE

I must bring to your attention one simple fact: Pets Habitat will never bring a puppy directly from airport to shop for sale (unlike most other pet stores that believe in swift turnaround of pets for quicker financial gain). Our strict protocol is continually and accurately followed, and documentary proof of steps taken is available upon request.

  • Upon puppies’ arrival to Dubai airport they are picked up in time (in fact our staff is always there ahead of time as mentioned above) and are driven directly to Pets Habitat residence facility. The puppies are voluntarily kept under observation in a separate villa with plenty of playtime, as per our own internal company policy to ensure smooth transition into the new environment, acclimatisation to UAE weather and change of diet (as may be required). During this observation period puppies are closely monitored for appetite, bowel movement, body temperature and activity level in line with the breed. This information is recorded in puppy’s in-house health chart.
  • As per our company policy, all our puppies are medically checked once again upon arrival in UAE by independently practising veterinary surgeon (usually Dr Jim Bolssens) of Europets Hospital to ensure that puppies have no serious health issue overlooked by the vet in Italy or anything developed during still rather stressful time of the fight. Point-by-point vet report is provided with every puppy or kitten. If any minor problem is detected due to travel, weather or diet change, puppy is given proper treatment and further time to recover / adjust to local conditions and the new diet formula.
  • All puppies are washed. Any pending booster vaccinations are completed if required. Often photos of the puppies are taken for our website, Instagram/Facebook or for our customers during this time too.
  • All our puppies (and kittens) are brought to the shop only upon vet’s complete satisfaction of good health. Point-by-point vet health report accompanies every puppy and kitten sold at Pets Habitat.

At the shop

  • Upon arrival to our store, the puppies are washed again and groomed by our professional groomer.
  • Puppies are introduced to the play pens, where they remain in company of other puppies. This helps the animals to socialise, avoid boredom of restricted space and demonstrate temperament: dominant or submissive, vocal or quiet, playful or laid back. We also believe it is important for our customers to observe our pets in a pack. Only then you may get a glimpse of the real character and possible future personality traits of individual puppy.
  • When deemed necessary, some pets are separated if they are excessively bullied by others or when they dominate others too much. We also separate our puppies during feeding times 3-4 times a day as per our meticulously followed schedule.
  • Specific food formula and strictly measured quantity is fed to each puppy, depending on breed, age, nutritional and growth requirements. For example, in our shop you will never see Beagle or Cocker Spaniel being fed a diet meant for a Chihuahua, Pomeranian or Yorkie, you will never witness adult cat food formula being poured into the food dish for a kitten. We feed Royal Canin and/or other premium brands to all our pets for optimal and proper growth potential of each breed. We have been observing few other pet stores paying such close and detailed attention to these seemingly minor factors, which end up being of paramount importance for your pet to remain healthy and grow as he/she should without digestive or development issues.
  • All of us at Pets Habitat are happy to assist and suggest the best breed for you and your family’s lifestyle in UAE. You are welcome to speak to any one of us in person at the store or by sending email to info@petshabitat.com. We are happy to answer your questions, clear your doubts and advise on any aspect to do with pets keeping.

I hope that readers and our potential customers understand from the above described process that importing a puppy or a kitten takes time, leg work, patience, perseverance and some element of good luck. We cannot produce your desired breed, colour or gender on a short notice if done with the right approach and ethics, unless the breed you desire has already been reserved and on the way to Dubai. So please do consider these when requesting for your puppy or kitten for shortly upcoming birthday or as your anniversary gift (personally I feel pets make the worst choice of a surprise gift unless previously discussed and agreed with recipient!). Also, please do not send a photo of a pet to find you exactly the same one, apply your common sense that each animals is as unique as a person, and cannot be “produced” same as the other. Of course, if only we were running puppy farm or had close ties with one, we probably would be able to “manufacture” your desired colour pattern, gender and breed within short notice, but we strictly do not deal with those and thus we are unwilling to entertain customers who request a pet on a whim.

Adopt, don’t shop mantra

This is highly debatable subject with many shady areas most people do not think of or invest their time for comprehensively inquire into, but in short I also agree that adopting unwanted abandoned pet is much more rewarding rather than buying. However, pure bred small to medium size puppies, even adult dogs are rarely available for adoption in UAE. So if you live in a flat or smaller residence, if you seek hypoallergenic breed due to your own or family member allergy concerns, if you are looking for a younger pup to train and bond from the very beginning or if you simply like and enjoy particular breed – you will end up buying your puppy. In such case, please do it with in depth research and thorough, sincere, ethical approach.

Bottom line

Yes, we admit and agree that it is ideal to adopt pure bred puppy of choice or buy a pet directly from a breeder yourself. However, in UAE, where it is extremely rare, we strive to infuse some sense into import and sale of ethically sourced pet animals. Given that Pets Habitat started as a family run business, where the pets and all other animals have ruled my household for years, it is somewhat easier for us compared to other pet stores, who do not pay scrupulous attention to the initial care any young animal essentially requires. Our pets come with peace of mind, save hassle of frequent trips to the vet and thousands of Dirhams on vet bills. Too good to be true? We are honoured to have customers who buy their first, second, then third and even fourth pet from us, please ask for their reference and talk to them.

So, next time you are enticed by a cute, cheap puppy from another pet store or an individual while your gut feeling tells you the puppy may be from a puppy mill – just think twice and ask about the breeder, parents photos or description of his/her journey from country of origin just to start the conversation. You will often get an indifferent attitude and come to a dead end of discussion shortly. Once again, we welcome you to compare us after you have visited all other pet stores in UAE!