A Lebanese entrepreneur plans to test a new concept for a pet store in Qatar with the December opening of a three-story business in Bin Mahmoud in which animal lovers can buy pets and goods, as well as groom, train and board them in the same venue.
The upcoming launch of Mohammed Mokdad’s multipurpose pet store, Unique Pets, is already generating some concern from residents, who worry if the animals will be treated humanely and question the need for importing dogs and cats into a country that already struggles with a growing stray animal population.
But Mokdad said he is a trained professional whose store shouldn’t be judged and condemned before it even opens.
In a recent interview with Doha News, the business owner explained more about his concept.
Each floor of Unique Pets will house different aspects of the business.
One floor will hold dogs and cats, one will serve as a place for dogs to be groomed and boarded if their owners are traveling, for example, and one floor will house birds and fish.
While small birds would be caged, larger birds such as parrots will be able to fly freely around the room, with a tree provided for them to perch on.
“Their wings won’t be cut. A free bird is a happy and healthy bird,” Mokdad told Doha News.
Working with customers
Unlike most pets shops and rescue centers here, Unique Pets plans to import the majority of its animals and prides itself on selling only pedigree dogs and cats.
While birds and fish will be displayed at the store and ready for purchase, Mokdad said he will only import dogs and cats upon demand.
Potential customers should discuss what type of dog or cat they’re interested in owning with Mokdad, who will then send photographs of the type of animal he can import for them.
Mokdad said that he educates each potential buyer on the realities of owning a pet first, as well as explaining the typical traits of each breed.
If an owner wants a quiet, submissive dog then he should not own a Jack Russel, for example, as they tend to be loud and yappy, and dogs with thick coats should not be left outdoors, Mokdad said.
Although the store is still under construction, the businessman has already begun importing and selling a number of dogs and cats by phone.
By bringing animals into a country that is struggling to reduce and rehome a large number of stray dogs and cats, Unique Pets has caused a wave of backlash from residents, with some turning to the store’s Facebook page to express their anger:
Local animal rescue centers have also spoken out about the new venture, echoing similar concerns.
Rhonda Rooney, shelter manager at 2nd Chance Rescue animal center, told Doha News:
“Unique Pets is making the society worse. If the owner wanted to help the animals here, then they would open another rescue center or sponsor one of the existing ones to help take more stray animals off the street.”
But Mokdad argued that he is actually helping to reduce the number of stray animals in the future by addressing pet owners’ fears before they buy. He told Doha News that many pet owners abandon their dogs because they don’t actually know what they want.
“Another problem is people buy a puppy, and because it’s not trained yet it goes to the toilet in the house. The owners get angry yet refuse to pay the high cost of training the dog. There are also very few trainers here, so it’s hard finding someone. Owners then abandon the animal. I solve this issue by ensuring all of my dogs are house-trained before selling them.”
Mokdad said that he only imports dogs and cats that are aged between three and six months, because at this age they are more desirable and easier to train.
But shelter manager Rooney expressed concerns about animals being brought into Qatar at such a young age, saying it is unhealthy for pets to leave their mothers then.
Once the animal has landed in Qatar, Mokdad and his team train the animal to become house-trained by using a 1×1 meter area specifically allocated for the animal’s use.
The service is free and is done at the shop, but other training sessions, such as behavioral training, will cost a fee.
A third problem Mokdad acknowledged is the insincere operations of local pet shops:
“People are often lied to by sellers here saying their puppy or kitten is purebred. But when it goes older you can see it’s actually a mixed breed and that they have been lied to. People then get angry and throw the animal on the street because they want a pedigree pet. I ensure this doesn’t happen with me. I guarantee all of my dogs and cats are pedigree and they are FCI certified (Fédération Cynologique Internationale).”
When asked how he manages to import his customer’s animals, Mokdad said he brings most animals in from Ukraine, Malta, Serbia and Germany and it is through certain contacts at each of these locations that he is able to sort out paperwork and boarding for the animals.
“I import three animals at a time, which costs me a minimum of QR3,000,” he told Doha News.
To date, the businessman said he has a mixed customer based and the majority of them have purchased dogs such as German Shepherds, Pomeranians and Pugs.
For now, Mokdad only imports two breeds of cats, Scottish Folds and British Shorthairs.
Selling animals for a minimum of QR3,500, with a German Shepherd costing QR5,500 and other breeds around QR10,000, Unique Pets appears to be among the most expensive places to purchase a pet in Qatar, although the prices fall in line with international pedigree import and export sellers.
Once the animal is on Qatar soil, Mokdad says that he ensures each and every dog and cat is healthy before being handed over to its new owner, saying that he pays for any sick animal from his own pocket but has an ongoing agreement with Royal Veterinary Center that allows treatments at a lower rate.
Royal Vet also currently boards all of Unique Pets’ animals while the three-story shop is undergoing construction.
Mokdad added that he hopes Qatar residents wait until he opens for business before making up their minds about his store:
“People should stop judging me, telling me what I’m doing is wrong. I am a professional and this is a business at the end of the day. Qatar is expanding and there are always new businesses starting. Let’s all help Qatar expand properly, without fighting and judging. Wait until you see how I work before judging me.”
It a bit hard to judge this poor man before he even gets his store up and running, whinning European expat wives do not help here. I’m sure his standards will be much higher as he has a physical shop and is registered rather than those that procure animals on demand from Thailand and other dubious places.
If someone wants a pure breed or an exotic pet and has the money, (no problem in Qatar) then you will not stop them. It’s like banning alcohol, pointless as people will find a way around the ban, just look at Saudi to see a society awash with booze.
There’s no stopping people from spending their money. I once rescued two Birmans off the street, an expensive and fancy breed. Someone obviously imported them and threw them out once they were tired of them or left the country, without a thought.
meow that’s quite a story!
So much energy directed at a guy who hasn’t even opened up a shop here. I wonder what sort of energy these well-intentioned people have directed at the other pet shops in Souq Waqif and elsewhere in Doha?
I’ve directed plenty of my energy at the disgusting pet shops in this country. And I will continue to do so. The treatment of animals in this country is an absolute disgrace, as the recent petition on change.org pointed out. The last thing we need is more pedigree cats and dogs being brought into the country to be abandoned a few months later by uncaring owners. There are no charities here to deal with animal welfare. When we rescue animals, we fund it ourselves. There is only so much we can do so please try to understand our frustration when we read articles like this.
I’m not trying to be difficult, but you aren’t really answering my question – what sort of energy is being directed to solve the problem that already exists with the current pet shops that sell sick, vaccinated, mixed breed dogs and cats in Souq Waqif for a fraction of the price that this shop will be selling them for? I signed the change.org petition, as did everyone else I know. I’m frustrated too, but what can be done about it, and what is anyone actually doing?
Well that is indeed the problem, Michael because what can we do. I suspect if I protest any more in pet shops I will be arrested. We need government backing and therein lies the problem.
Part of the problem isn’t even the pet shops – I know more than a few friends who went to Bangkok and came back with puppies and kittens from the shops there. It was all a bit of fun for them – you can pick up a Pomeranian puppy and they will ship it to Doha for you for what I think was a relatively small sum – maybe 1000qar?
The most depressing thing is that the pet shops in Souq Waqif, as bad as they are, are so much better than some of the small suburban pet shops.
She signed an online petition, what more do you expect her to do you unsensitive man!
Correction, MIMH. She signed an online petition, carried out her own TNR, vaccination & adoption progs & fundraising events. Please refrain from commenting on things you know NOTHING about.
Don’t you oppress me!
Well said Grantley. I too pay for rescue from my own pocket and do as much as possible to try to contain the problem and to rehome the fall out
fully agree, people may not want a dog/cat from the shelter because its old and they want to raise it from a young age, its a step in the right direction in my opinion..The people complaining can go to the current place to buy animals, the souq
The shelters are full of puppies and kittens. If you want a kitten, contact me- I am rehoming 5 at present, all vaccinated and spayed/ neutered. Free to a good home. I have personally rescued 4 Persians from the street, dumped probably because they were male and hadn’t been neutered. Qatar does not need more animals from puppy farms in the region.
I personally wouldnt get any pets, just not for me.
But my point is, people are going to want to get pets that arent from shelters (for some reason, maybe they want a specific breed or whatever, i dont know, but the mindset in a lot of places is to get them from shops or breeders rather then shelters.
in that case they pets are better off being taken care of in an air conditioned shop rather than outdoors in the middle of the summer (as whats happening in the souq at the moment)
FYI, if i was to get a pet id get it from a shelter…but its about damage limitation
MIMH You are so out of order. Buying alcohol is no comparison to buying an animal who then relies on you for it’s life health and well being. You can stop this, its called legislation. As for the standards- I am sure the owner will take steps to ensure his stock is well housed- the point is that companion animals should not be bought on a whim. If you want pedigree, buy from a breeder with certification. If you want just a pet, get one from a rescue centre- they are full of kittens and puppies desperate for good homes.
I can’t speak for MIMH, but I think his point about likening alcohol and pets, is precisely that no amount of legislation to ban the import and sale of it will work. There will always be a way for people to get through legal loopholes.
What needs to change isn’t so much the law, but rather the cultural acceptance here that you can go to the Souq for dinner, and on the way back to the car just buy a kitten on a whim because it looked cute and your 3 year old demanded it, only to loose interest a week later.
Pet shops can only sell as many pets as people are prepared to buy.
Correct. It is the same with illegal drugs, I’m not saying I agree with people taking them but if you want them you can find them anywhere in the world. Even little ole Qatar….
Of course you can limit people bringing animals in to Qatar. Its called Border control. I think I would be stopped if I brought a cat in with my luggage without paperwork. I am not suggesting that people can not buy a pet , that is how pedigree ownership works. But they shouldn’t be available in a shop.
You might be stopped if you break the law, but about 10% of people living in this country wouldn’t be.
Bought on a whim? If that is your objective to stamp that out then you will need to change the whole of humanity. That is not a purely Qatar problem.
As for the abanded dogs, why not sell them to the cultures that eat them. You can then use that money to save other animals and those cultures that eat them get a steady supply of meat.
I don’t think it would be cost effective to round up and ship dogs to China or Vietnam for the table- they breed them readily enough there. I’m not sure about the religious guidelines for eating dogs, or slaughtering them according to custom, but I doubt that cats would be fit for consumption, being predators. The costs involved would certainly not support any animal rescue or shelter so I doubt it would make a good business proposal. I can’t imagine many Qataris would want to be the 51% owner of such a venture.
I don’t believe I stated that it was only a problem in Qatar, however that is where we are and the problem is here for discussion.
You can indeed be proactive in discouraging people from buying an animal on a whim- don’t sell them in shops like pairs of Jimmy Choos, require animal ownership to be licensed and registered. Fund Animal rescue from Government, animal protection is shown as being very closely aligned to child protection; ensure all abandoned pets are then vaccinated neutered or spayed and given a second chance.
No I was thinking within Qatar, the Phillipines has a tradition of eating dog meat and I am sure some of the labourers would be quite happy to supplement their diet with some fresh meat. Cats are no good, as you don’t get a good enough cut of the bone.
In the Philippines , slaughtering dogs for food is illegal. Having said that, yes some still do eat dogs, generally the very poor as it is not very nutritious but cheap, or free if you happen to run one over, but NOT pets, and many keep dogs as beloved family members.
If it was for consumption in Qatar, and you are talking about rounding up strays, then it would be costly, ensuring they were disease free, rabies free and were then slaughtered Halal. Someone would have to organize it, house them etc, presumably for profit. As it wouldn’t be the Animal Welfare organizations or supporters, I seriously doubt that such sales would help support the rehoming of abandoned pets.
“European expat wives”….you’re terribly smart to be able to judge the nationality and marital status of someone on the basis of a name. You gotta share your secret with the rest of us.
I’m no Sherlock Holmes but if you look of the names then they are mainly European or of European descent, the level of English again points to the anglosaxon world and the fact that most jobs are secured by men in Qatar I am happy enough to say at least 70% of these people fall into that category.
You are no Sherlock, that’s for sure. Nor a mathematician.
Indeed. Us European expat wives do seem to be pretty easy to spot. Apparently ( from what I’ve gleaned from previous posts) we are all blonde and drive SUVs and we are most definitely not Arabic or Indian.
Why is it harder to spot American expat wives, I wonder? They seem to move around Qatar under the radar.
So it would seem that even if I was born in Europe but am of Indian, Arabic or Asian descent with an ethnic name, I am not classed as European…
Lot of harsh comments about a business that is not active. They seem to be taking the right approach in providing dog training, kennels etc. Also, as noted, all dogs would be fully certified so potential buyers will be aware of history and lineage quality. Seems like a good approach and a far cry from the deplorable conditions in the animal souq. My concern would be the vetting of potential buyers to ensure they are capable of handling the chosen dog. Nothing mentioned about microchips, if this is not practice here it should be. Also, to note as a breeder myself, three to six months is perfectly suitable for removing a pup from its mother. Hopefully this guy will run the business properly, which includes education and control of buyers
Dream on. This is about money. Not education and animal welfare.
Any business is about money, don’t try to make that weak point in an effort to put down what this guy is offering. Fact is the premise of this business is a huge advancement from current practice in Qatar, and yet people won’t even give him a chance , they would rather just prejudice everyone. Typical of this place. Obviously there is a clear need for animal control, that’s a governmental and societal issue. It seems to me like this guy is taking a step in the right direction. Every country has problems with fools who mistreat and abandon pets, that doesn’t mean that every pet business should be shut down.
I’m all for a pet shop selling quality products and I would gladly support that because we desperately need it. What we do not need is another importer of pedigree animals. ‘Premise’ is the correct word. Let’s just wait and see what the reality is.
I hope he will be spearheading a campaign from the Business Community to lobby the Government on Animal Welfare.
Why don’t you suggest it to him….
the market niche here are wild dangerous animals like cheetahs, crocodiles, cheetah and lion cubs, baboons,hyenas
What about sadam? Is he not a wild dangerous animal?
We just rescued two beautiful persian cats who were dumped on waste ground outside our compound. You could see the marks of where their collars had been before they were taken off to be dumped, presumably by people who could not be bothered to look after them any more. I really wish Qatar would introduce a ban on importing cats and dogs until it sorts out the abandoned and stray problem we currently have. And Royal Veterinary Centre allows Mokdad treatment at a lower rate. Do they also offer that to people who rescue strays and abandoned animals at their own expense? If not, why not? Vets here need to do more to help.
I think imposing a ban on importing cats and dogs into Qatar would be a very extreme measure, and will probably lead to illegal imports, as well as mishandling of the animals, which would be even worse.
Also, stray animals aren’t for everyone, and in my experience (not saying this applies to all of them), they sometimes require a lot more attention due to previous cases of abuse or negligence. I do agree with you on the need for people being accountable for their pets and not dumping them if it doesn’t work out, as is the case in Qatar. I have a beautiful cat that was hurriedly given to us by the previous owners because their kids were ‘afraid’ of it. The poor thing has a bent tail and damaged vocal cords, and two years later, he is still very skittish around people.
I’d love a Rottweiler, had one a long time back, incredible companions.
so can we expect ‘purebred’ pink chickens for sale?
This is like going back 50 years. Cats and Dogs should not be sold in pet shops, if they are puppies they should be with their mother until weaned then rehomed that way breeding puppy and kitten farms can be eradicated. If you want a pedigree animal buy from the breeder with certification, it shouldn’t be an impulse. If you want an animal to choose and fall in love with, go to the animal shelters. Qatar, this is a really bad move in my opinion, there are THOUSANDS of abandoned pets here. By all means open a pet shop which sells things for pets and owners- baskets, toys, tanks, cages food, etc, great business, we do need it, but dogs and cats shipped here and put in cages to be sold to the first shopper? I despair of the attitude here.
We don’t have good breeders in Qatar, unless you know of any. The next best thing is a good shop that imports the pets from good breeders.
I really don’t know why you and others insist on this “Here VS. There” comparison. Where’s there exactly? The UK? The US? Canada? Each of those countries have their own issues when it comes to animal welfare, not to mention human welfare but that’s another issue.
Are you aware that an estimated 4 Million cats and dogs are put sleep every year in the US at animal shelters? The number for cats is especially bad as it is estimated that more than 70% of cats that enter shelters don’t make it out. Many of those are friendly cats that have been abandoned by their owners for all sorts of lame reasons like not time for the cat, moving to a new place that doesn’t allow pets, no child, etc. It happens there just the same.
We will always judge the trade of living beings as something morally incorrect, Mr. Mokdad. Worst, selling animals between 3-6 months old is bad because in order to do that, you must separate them from their litter and mother too early, which provoques psychological problems to animals. If you want to run a business, why don’t focus only on quality stuff for animals which are already living in this country, instead of tempting people to buy your animals. If they want one, they can adopt in between the thousands abandoned in this country. You will only help to make the problem of abandoned animals, worst.
He probably got sick of all the complaining do gooders attacking him before he has even opened his shop. He has done nothing illegal and looks like he wants to set up an upmarket pet store. If he breaks the law or keeps animals in appalling conditions by all means complain, to him, to the police, to the MOI.
It is a bit like me suspecting you to be a future murderer and I keep hounding you, insulting you in the street and all over the net. Not really fair is it.
If he chooses to open a ‘shop’ selling imported pedigree pets in a country which is overflowing with stray and abandoned pedigree pets then he shouldn’t be surprised at the backlash. ‘Complain to him, to the police, to the MOI’. Don’t make me laugh. Like the way the owners at the animal souq, the police and the MOI have been so pro-active on the horrors of it? Yeah right. Wake up and stop defending animal cruelty.
As far as I am away this man has not been convicted of animal cruelty, neither have any serious allegations been raised against him, which is not surprising as he has even started his business.
I think you need to take your protests to the Qatar Government if there is lack of action from the regular authorities, rather than attack a man who has done nothing wrong.
Erm, we have but surprise, surprise, no action has been taken.
Best of luck with aspects for this endeavour except for the importing of animals.
There are enough Persian cats and huskies that have suffered here. The importation should be banned. There are plenty of animals in need of adoption
Did anyone else notice that the type of dogs being imported to Qatar are not at all suitable for this type of climate. Pugs for example will suffer with the extreme heat and their short snout which will cause breathing problems, German Sheppards have quiet long coats that are not suited to this heat. I have been following this mans Facebook page, which has received a number of upset comments and concerns… One of his reponses was that for bad review he received he would import a dog or kitten. This was then swiftly deleted. What kind of responsible “pet loving” business man is that. If someone wants to buy a purebred animal, then yes they should be allowed to, but it also their responsibilty to understand what type of environment the animal require.
Why does this not surprise me?
My tuppence worth…………….All Cats & Dogs sold should be micro chipped and logged when sold so you can atleast identify who is dumping the poor things. How long will it be before people begin their own illegal breeding programs from the pets bought from there?
Exactly what is needed. Good intentions are not enough. Pet ownership here in Qatar requires legislation, due to the transient nature of the majority of the population. To be honest I would rather someone had their pet destroyed if they don’t want to take it with them, than leave them in the street to succumb to disease, traffic or starvation, especially the dogs.
Wow, put a couple of cute cats and dogs on the front page and the comments come flying in. If this man was selling pet Vietnamese Pot Bellied Pigs or Salamandas then no one would care, because they are just not cute and cuddly. How detached humanity is from reality.
you are wrong. The debate is about animal cruelty- regardless of species
I am not a housewife sadly and work full time. I have also worked in a
vets for over two years and been involved in dog rescue for the last six
and have seen it all – from a dog abandoned and left to starve in the
desert with a broken leg to a dog burnt with cooking oil having had it
thrown all over it. Lets make a visit to the numbers shall we in rescue
as I write. There are over 500 dogs in shelters of some sort or
another in Qatar at the moment, this number does not include dogs
currently waiting to be rehomed in private foster care. Cats – well
think all my cat rescue friends will all safely say this number is
probably also the same with cats in the same position. I have a cat
upstairs myself for rehoming in my spare room and oh yeah a rabbit I
found two weeks ago that is currently recovering in my outside room. I
came across it on a building site between two villas and a majlis while
out walking one day, it has mites and has cost me money to treat. I do not actively search for these animals I come across them and can be found silently swearing to myself when I do about how much this one is going to cost me. I
have also found a tortoise in my time and quite a few birds. I see
kittens daily dodging the traffic on my long drive to work, sadly I do not have the money, space
or magical rehoming abilities to help them so I have to drive on by,
even though it kills my soul every time I do this but at least if they
do not get squished they can dumpster dive and eat. All the dogs I see
every week wandering in various states of distress and starvation cannot
dumpster dive and well do I need to spell out what happens to them. So
please tell me again how this chap’s new venture will help Qatar
because I just do not see it? Unless you have seen all the animal suffering
first hand you cannot possibly comment I have had six years of it and am drained. I suppose he is also going to ensure all the animals expats take on are going to be exported to their countries (europe v expensive) when they leave is he? No didn’t think so.
Wholeheartedly agree with you. I currently have 10 rescued cats, collecting another one tonight, feeding as many as I can, getting them neutered etc. It’s an appalling situation, and like you find it galling to be brushed off as an expat housewife. I am not, I work full time . If I was, would that make my concerns less valid? I guess if you don’t have respect and empathy for other creatures who are reliant on humans, you would hardly have any for your fellow man.
Selling yet more animals on the shop floor of a pet shop, where they will be at the mercy of children who don’t understand that they have fears or feelings, is wrong on so many levels. It’s brilliant that people want to share their lives with animals, but with that pleasure comes responsibility- from the Owners, the breeders, the distributors and Government..
‘Unlike most pets shops and rescue centers here, Unique Pets plans to import the majority of its animals and prides itself on selling only pedigree dogs and cats.’ Mokdad, Rescue Centres don’t import animals, they shelter and try to rehome the abandoned imports and unwanted pets sold by pet shops.
By all means sell rescued animals- their are hundreds of cats dogs, puppies and kittens available for you to groom, train and sell. Perhaps a donation for the Animal Shelters, or the cost of neutering/spaying an abandoned pet could be required of all purchasers. That should sort out the real animal lovers from the impulse buyers.
So sad, not because I don’t want someone to sell dogs, but most costumers here should never have the right to own a dog. Second issue is that these importeted dogs will be coming from European puppy mills (dog factories) so they might be pure breeds, but usually brougt up under very sad conditions with only one thing in mind….profit. Third it is obvious from the statements of the owner, that he is not that much of an expert as he claims. Take care of the dogs which are here already before importing more innocent creatures into the country.