written by Natalia Dolidze, managing partner of Pets Habitat LLC (email@example.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 subject of animal well-being. Strict protocol is in place when it comes to the health, care and comfort of our pets. Our Pets Habitat team is knowledgeable, professional, experienced and are equally driven by passion and compassion towards animals. Just come in, meet our pets and chat with any one of us to see the difference. At any time feel free to compare us to other pet stores – we are confident that we will always win in that comparison!
Now let’s face the facts: there is less than a handful of serious, professional and ethical dog breeders within UAE. There is no official kennel club where any locally bred puppies may be checked and registered, there is no Government authority regulating private dog breeding (in fact, it is illegal to breed dogs or cats in UAE without valid trade license). 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 UAE residents 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 in various countries, including UAE. They sum into a sad statement of our humanity loss for the sake of monetary gains, human betrayal of our closest and most trusting companion for easy profit. As founder and owner of Pets Habitat, I am proud to have started this business out of the need to help many stray cats and dogs, I genuinely love and admire all animal species (and have experience with some exotic that I have encountered while in UAE since 1995 in addition to many rescued pets). 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, healthier and make better family pets than those raised in commercial farm settings with minimal human contact and lack of 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 and they are social towards your pets that you may bring with you to our store. Our puppies 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 room! 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. 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, 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 contact, shortlist and communicate with various breeders, to identify genuine ethical breeder vs commercial trader, then to meet, see and examine the puppies (even while within EU, we often must drive for 8-12 hours in a stretch only for a hope of a good quality litter), explain all the details of export process to the breeder and to reserve selected puppies if chosen by us. It also often happens that the drive and effort made, our time and expenses are wasted only for us to recognise commercial breeding setup of someone we felt could have been potentially a good breeder. There have been situations when facing the “breeder”, we realise the person’s lack of passion, ethics and concern towards animals’ health and well-being. In such cases we must just walk away and accept our time/money loss. We also hear “no” from legitimate breeders too, as not everyone wants their puppies to leave EU.
Whenever possible, we prefer to reserve more than one puppy from any litter. Firstly, because flying solo causes too much anxiety for one lonely puppy to go through all the stresses of airport procedures, then facing the fear of taking off and landing alone. During such times puppies need the warmth and comfort zone of their siblings, flying alone or flying with his canine family makes a huge difference to the puppy’s emotional and physical health! Secondly, flying more than one puppy is usually more economical, especially with Emirates airline that frequently imposes minimum weight of 150kg rate.
I will summarise the process into critical points below in an attempt to shorten your reading time. Please note, however, that I can write pages on the actual process, why it is never simple and easy and how it becomes so expensive. If you ever decide to import a puppy or a kitten to UAE entirely yourself, you will understand exactly what I mean by “pages to write about”.
- 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 (from Italy it is 15 weeks as per current rules and regulations of MOCCAE).
- The breeder and we must complete all the required documentation for the export and for the import processes. The vet in EU 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 anti-parasite treatment is administered precautionary as per UAE MOCCAE regulations.
- We prefer to transport our puppies to Dubai with shortest direct Emirates airline flights whenever possible (despite their high costs!). As per EU regulations, we require involvement of EU agent to reserve suitable flight and complete the booking confirmation (even while we prepare all the documents and arrangements ourselves).
- On the day of puppies’ flight, the breeder will bring the puppies to the airport several 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.
- Upon arrival to Dubai, our puppies go through mandatory live animal import procedures, including veterinary inspection at Sky Cargo / Quarantine Section of Dubai airport. Once completed and the vet inspector grants us permission to proceed, our puppies are collected immediately, regardless if the flight arrives at night or during the day. 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 and safety of our animals.
All above listed points have on-going costs involved: starting from the phone bills generated while speaking to the multitude of people to identify true genuine breeders, to the fuel charges to meet the breeders, from breeders’ high prices for their litters (no reputable breeder within western/central EU will ever sell their much loved and prized puppies below Euro 1500-2000 each, please be realistic!), to puppies additional boarding costs while waiting to reach minimum permitted to travel age at breeders’ homes, then the vet bills, export documentation costs, IATA crates and agent fees, further ground transport and air transport costs, UAE import duty, import permits and release license at Dubai Airport for every arriving animal.
Upon arrival in UAE
I must bring to your attention one simple fact: Pets Habitat will never bring our puppies directly from the airport to our shop for sale (unlike 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, upon arrival in UAE all our puppies are medically checked once again by independently practising veterinary surgeon to ensure that puppies have no serious health issue overlooked by the vet in EU and that nothing has developed during still rather stressful time of the fight. Point-by-point vet report is available and provided with every puppy and kitten at our store. If any minor health concern is detected, whether due to travel, weather or diet change, puppy is given proper treatment and further time to recover / adjust to local conditions and the new food formulation.
- All puppies are washed during this time. Any pending booster vaccinations are completed if required. Within the following days we also take photos of available (not previously already reserved) puppies for our website, Instagram/Facebook.
- All our puppies (and kittens) are brought to the shop only upon vet’s complete satisfaction and reconfirmation of good health. As mentioned already, point-by-point vet health report accompanies every puppy and kitten sold at Pets Habitat, along with Italian/EU passport with vaccinations and anti-parasite treatments and pedigree whenever available.
At the shop
- Upon arrival to our store, the puppies are washed again and groomed by our groomer.
- Puppies are introduced to the play pens, where they remain in the company of other puppies. This helps the animals to socialise, avoid boredom of restricted spaces and demonstrate temperament: dominant or submissive, vocal or quiet, playful or laid back, outgoing or reserved, happy-go-lucky or assertive. We also believe in importance of meeting and observing our puppies (this is why we insist on having sofa at our store despite space limitations). Only with careful observation 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 other puppies too much. We also separate our puppies during feeding times 3-4 times a day as per our meticulously followed regimen.
- 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 noticing that very few other pet stores pay attention to these seemingly minor factors, which end up being of paramount importance for your pet to remain healthy and grow optimally 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 based on your lifestyle in UAE. You are welcome to speak to any one of us in person at the store or through WhatsApp 050-4118085. 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, money 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, please do apply your common sense that each animals is as unique as a person, and cannot be “produced” exactly the 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” a better match of desired colour pattern, gender and breed within short notice to satisfy vanity demand, but we strictly do not deal with those, and thus we remain unwilling to entertain customers who request a pet on a whim.
Adopt, don’t shop mantra
This is a highly debatable subject with many shady areas most people do not think about or invest their time for comprehensively dwell 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 with 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.
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 our 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 second, third and even fourth pet from us!
So, next time you are enticed by a cute, cheap puppy from another pet store or from an individual (while your gut feeling may whisper that the puppy is from a puppy farm) – just think twice and ask about the actual breeder, puppy’s both parents, their history and photos or description of puppy’s journey from country of origin just to start the conversation. You will often get an indifferent attitude and will come to a dead end of such discussion shortly. Once again, we welcome you to compare us after you have visited all other pet stores in UAE!