Pet Care, Abu Dhabi

Schools are closing. Many children ask for pets. Is it not a passing fancy? The pet is yours for life.You are adding a family member, a long time relationship.
By Sujata Devadas, June 14, 2015

Is animal welfare an integral part of school curriculum in other countries? If yes, then UAE is on the right path. 

Are you a parent? Has your child badgered you for a pet? 

My stock response: “Why? You have friends all around you. Make friends in school or closer to home.”

As I rose from my seat to shake hands with a vet of 20 odd years, Dr.Margit Mueller, Director of Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, the question just escaped me:”Do you have pets?” Her eyes became round with surprise. “Of course!!!” almost as if to say “What a ridiculous question!” “I have 4 dogs, parrots, turtles and rabbits. All my dogs are from our animal shelter.“ It is quite obvious that she loves them.

“Why?” I countered. “Aren’t human beings enough?”

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Hedgehog Millie. Pet owners: Paul Bell & family

Wisdom for an urbanite

Dr.Margit sat back and imparted me some wisdom. “I personally believe that it is extremely important for children to have pets and care for them. It becomes an important part of their education and character building. If you love and care for a pet, you will have better relations with humans.” 


“Children who learn to care for another living being, behave with much more confidence if a family member is ill and needs care.” Dr.Margit explains. “You are preparing your child for life and its eventualities - to protect the precious. When a baby enters the family, you have to be good at taking care of it, of course. But for someone who has never had a pet, this can be quite stressful, filled with anxiety.”


A Great Distraction From Gadgets


“Pets help children deal with responsibility. Feed the pet, take it for a walk, play with it and so on… Earlier, children used to play together on the street or in playgrounds. Now, all they do is sit with an electronic device. They grow up with extremely limited social skills.” Dr. Margit drives her point home. 


“Entrust the responsibility of caring for the pet to a child, but not exclusively.” she counsels. “Be prepared to give support. It is education for the child. If something goes wrong, do not blame the child, because he or she is too young. Usually, children love to care for their pet. As they grow older, it becomes part of an enjoyable lifestyle.”


The Support System


But so many people, living in the lap of urbanity, avoid close contact with an animal. “Choose from our animal shelter,” advises Dr.Margit. “If you go to a pet shop and buy a pet, that is it.” Dr.Margit points out. “No further transactions, no guidance. You are left with the animal and you have to make the best of it, for better or for worse.” 


“But if you take an animal from our shelter, we already know this animal. If you run into any kind of problems bonding with it, call us. We shall help.”


First Adoption?


“Before we hand over an animal for adoption, we always check: Are you a first time pet owner? If yes, then we give you guidelines how best to take care of this newly selected family member. We support the new owner even after the adoption.”


Pets love you unconditionally. You don’t have to put up a good face all the time. No matter how bad or sad you feel, your pet always loves you. Regardless of what kind of a day you have had, your pet never lets you down. It is very enriching. However much you love your pet, it will return it, 10 times more. If your apartment is too small for a dog or a cat, have a rabbit instead.

They are social


Do pets not need a companion of their own kind? “It depends. How much time do you spend with your pet?” answers Dr.Margit. “If you are at home the whole day, thats fine. But if you work full day and reach home late at night, then your pet needs a companion. Domesticated animals are very social. If I am out on an emergency call, out all day, my 4 dogs can still play with each other, socialize.”


If children learn to protect animals from an early age, it becomes a part of their natural behaviour. If we don’t do this, it creates a distance between us and other living things. Eventually, that is a compounding problem.

Respecting other animals


Learning how to handle pets(domesticated animals), how to touch them, feed them, care for them - is it part of the school curriculum?

In 2013, The Straits Times reported that “both primary and secondary students will learn the importance of animal welfare,  in the new Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) syllabus in Singapore.

British citizen Paul Bell says “most schools have a club or group that keeps some kind of pet or animal at school (ferrets, hamsters, rabbits, tortoise etc.), and anyone can come and visit them and interact with them, and it is encouraged to do so. Caring for animals is not really taught, but comes naturally. It is instilled in children through their parents. I’d say 50% of households have pets, (the official figure is 46% or 13 million households have a total of 65 million pets in UK!)

In Sweden, although pet care is not taught in schools, they are taught about animals rights, the importance of protecting endangered species and how to conserve the biodiversity. 


If indeed Abu Dhabi Education Council incorporates pet care and animal welfare as part of the educational curriculum, it is definitely on the right path.


How about your country and its concern for World animal protection?

In The School Syllabus


Dr. Margit shares with me that “we suggested to the Abu Dhabi Education Council that animal welfare should be an integral element of the school curriculum. So now, many schools visit us. Students touch animals and learn the right way to handle them.”


For Dogs: Train Them, Play With Them


“What is more, here next to the ADFH, we have a dog trainer and an agility park!” She is happy to let residents know how ADFH take additional care of animals even after they leave her hospital or care center. “We meet a lot of people who do not know how to train their dog. So we help. Call the pet care center to reach our dog trainer. Even if you have bought the dog from a shop, you can fix an appointment with our dog trainer. He will assess the situation and help you as best he can. We are your support system.” 


“Also, dogs need to run, taste freedom, have fun. Within any city, such open spaces do not exist. The Dog Agility Park is an answer to this. For a nominal amount of AED 15/- per hour, dogs can run free and play. Groups of friends come sometimes - it is fun for the dogs, fun for the owners.”


And More…


It is not over yet. “The pet care center has a grooming parlor.” Dr.Margit enthuses. If you face an emergency situation with your pet, call the same number. The pet care centre will bring you immediate assistance.

There are no regulations, special licenses or guidelines given by the UAE government regarding ownership of pets. It depends on your accommodation rules whether you can keep a pet. Regulations do exist, however, banning the possession of wild animals.


To Adopt A Pet…Ring 02 5755155 



Going On Vacation? 





Animals adopted from this shelter are especially happy with this arrangement because they have been here before. They know the environment and the staff. It is very reassuring for them to spend their time here. 


A fun time for all.

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