Q5. “I am sure I can import puppy at a cheaper cost myself, how do you justify your pet prices?”

This is one of the most frequent lines we hear verbally or receive in writing: to justify the price of certain puppy or kitten. Despite all the explanations we may provide, the customer often remains suspicious that we are still just hiking up the price to generate the higher profits. Therefore, I have decided to go a step further and break down our basic costs in aim to demonstrate that the only cost possible to reduce while importing pet animal into UAE is the cost of the animal (and this is the most important cost you do not want to compromise or be saving on!). Try to import a puppy or kitten from legitimate, registered, ethical and reputable breeder yourself from any part of the world, and you will know all the information first-hand.

To spare your time and expenses to find out yourself, let’s break it down to the actual figures. Since we import our pets from Italian breeders, the currency used is Euro. The most important cost is the cost of the puppy (or kitten). When carefully selected from genuine and reputable breeder in Italy, this cost is NEVER below Euro 1,800-3,500 for any puppy or kitten of any breed, including the price of the animal, plus the costs of boarding by the breeder while we wait for the pet to reach required age and complete the necessary procedures.

Registered breeders, who breed ethically, invest their time, money, careful attention and love into thoughtful breeding of their dogs or cats. There is evident standard to adhere to. Genuine breeders do not sell their litters cheaply and rush to breed their female animals again to yield quick profits. All canine breeding in Italy is governed by ENCI (member of FCI) or another kennel club, all parent dogs must be registered by law, birth of all puppies must be recorded. Any violation of the laws is punishable by hefty fines and may land the offender in jail.

Genuine breeders want to know where their puppies/kittens go, who is going to be the owner, where their puppy/kitten will live, why we are interested in their litters. It takes time to discuss, explain and build enough trust for the breeder to only consider selling to us. Let’s consider the best case scenario that our selected breeder agrees to sell us his/her puppy. Staying on budget side, let’s assume figure of Euro 2,000 as the price payable to the breeder for one of our chosen breed of puppies. Let’s also pretend the breeder is kind enough and understanding to agree to hold the puppy with minimum additional charges until puppy is 15 weeks of age (mandatory minimum age of entry into UAE from “low risk” rabies countries like Italy). So far this is very optimistic scenario, but let’s say we are lucky.

Now we need to purchase IATA approved spacious and smooth plastic travel crate to accommodate the puppy comfortably on his flight to UAE. The cost is between Euro 90 to 260, depending on the size, breed, IATA regulations and availability. Let’s suppose the puppy is of smaller breed and that cost stays on lower side of Euro 100. So now we have the cooperative breeder, the puppy and the comfortable travel crate. Our cost so far is Euro 2,100.

Since Covid, many airlines currently either have embargo or do not accept animals onboard due to shortage of flights and unprofitability. Recently Emirates airline changed their terms, resulting in drastic air transport costs increase along with IATA agent charges. Brachycephalic breeds can no longer fly with Emirates, so another major international EU based airline must be contacted to fly Shih Tzu, Bulldogs, Cavaliers and other snub-nose breeds. Please note, that at Pets Habitat we never use budget or charter flights to risk our animals lives and sacrifice their wellbeing to save on our expenses. Our animals welfare is NEVER jeopardised, so all our puppies and kittens fly premium international airlines, with preference of direct Emirates airline flights whenever possible despite the costs!

Soon we need the travel agent to issue airway bill for our Emirates airline flight booking to UAE once the puppy reaches minimum permitted entry age of 15 weeks. Despite our meticulously observing and following all the IATA rules and regulation, a lot is still left at the airline’s final discretion.

We now have our total costs at Euro 4,700. Additional cost of vet checkup, vaccinations, documents, vet certificates, road transfers (including high EU tolls) would optimistically amount to Euro 400, to sum up total amount spent in EU so far being Euro 5,100.

At current AE Dirham – Euro reduced rate of writing this in 2022, this amount is approximately AED 18,200. The optimistically economical costs of a puppy from a breeder flown to Dubai with Emirates or another leading EU airline sums up to AED 18,200 while the puppy is still in the country of origin (Italy in our case)!

Now let’s take a step back to booking the flight. In order for airline to reserve and confirm desired and permitted date of entry into UAE, we must obtain UAE import permit from MOCCAE for our already selected and purchased puppy. The airline will not guarantee or confirm the booking until this mandatory UAE entry document for a pet is obtained. Once the essential export/import documentation is completed, we can apply for UAE import permit, which costs AED 200. We now have Emirates airline flight tentatively confirmed for our pet, and we have spent AED 18,400 for our puppy thus far.

Moving on, the puppy has been well taken care of and is now happy on Emirates plane en route to Dubai. At this stage we are required to complete the release process online UAE MOCCAE page in order to be able to collect our puppy from Dubai airport quarantine facility. The process is similar to the import permit issuance and costs AED 500. After paying additional customs fees and other charges, we now finally have our puppy out of airport in Dubai (if all the documents are in tiptop order!) at over AED 19,000!

The principal reason I am disclosing costs and figures of import process is to make you, the reader, our potential customer, understand that the only part where it is truly possibly to slash the costs, is the cost of the puppy!! So when you see a cheaper puppy, do a basic math, think and consider the costs above, and question why this puppy or kitten costs less? Ask how is it possible and which expense of export and import procedure above has been compromised on..?

Yes, we are likely to fly more than one puppy at the same time if breeder has siblings available for us to buy, and so some of our fees may be fractionally reduced for us being a business (calculate in the business license, commercial rents, staff and other business expenses we pay regularly). Yes, you can opt for cheaper EU airline with marginal price reduction, IF you can find one in current times to carry your puppy to UAE. Yes, we also may get a better rate for a travel box if we buy them in bulk or cheaper brands. But the costs of import permit and release permit in UAE, documents and vet charges, airline prices remain the same for everyone!

So where can the cost be mainly and greatly reduced? Essentially the cost of the puppy/kitten. You can buy a puppy for less than Euro 100 from a puppy mill (obviously being in this line of business for over a decade I know their prices). If you run the puppy farm yourself, breeding animals in cold dirty cages without medical care on budget food formula continuously mating the females, the costs of your puppy are reduced even further! Shipping puppies in bulk of 30+ in small wooden boxes by disreputable/charter airline that does not follow IATA rules or with many stopovers can also lower the price…

So when you opt for that cheaper puppy/kitten, you are saving on your pet’s quality, health, wellbeing, background, ethics and not on business margins or expenses involved. If you opt to select and import your pet yourself – you will understand our predicament and prices. I encourage you to investigate the costs independently and calculate the real expenses yourself to conclude if it is really worth to save on the puppy/kitten price, source, health and welfare of the animal.