Dogs are truly man’s best friend. So pure in their loyalty and love to us that as human beings we probably don’t deserve it.
Nevertheless, if you’re reading this you want to know how to get a dog in Doha, not some monologue about how amazing dogs are, as you’re likely already aware of that. So whether you’re a new expatriate in Doha or have been around the corniche a few times already but decided that you need to add some adorable fluffy love in your life, this guide is for you.
But first, a few things to consider before you make the commitment of having a dog. And it is just that – a major, life-long commitment. While your dog will be just one aspect of your life, you are everything to the dog’s life – act and plan accordingly. So before picking up your new four-legged friend, keep these things in mind:
Dogs are expensive
I don’t mean the price of the actual dog (which I will get to in a minute) – I mean upkeep. You have to think about the cost of dog food, toys, vet visits, vaccinations, travel, or even dog walkers and boarding. These things add up, very quickly especially if you have a big (< 25 kg) canine.
Let’s take a closer look. A 15 kg bag of adult dog food (Royal Canine) costs around 370 QAR depending on where you get it from. A large dog can go through that in about two months, add to that their first vaccinations (200-300 per vaccination, three are required), plus de-worming tablets, shampoo, vet consultation, etc and you’re easily north of 1,000 QAR on the first trip to the vet.
Plan ahead before you get the dog. Average out the prices and see if this is something you can maintain for the next 10 to 15 years. If you have a doubt, then please do not get a dog. Nothing breaks their spirit like being given up by their owner.
Dogs are time-intensive
Dogs were bred by humans for thousands of years as companions – they are not lone wolves. They need to be with their pack, they can’t help it, its just how they are. So if you work long hours and won’t be able to see your pup until the evening time, then, sorry to break it to you, but you’re lifestyle is not suitable. Dogs suffer psychologically when left alone for extended periods of time.
Even if you are a stay-at-home parent, or your work/life balance miraculously favors life, you still need to give your dog a lot of your time. When they’re puppies they need supervision and frequent trips outdoors to relieve themselves, as well as plenty of play time (30 minutes a day at the very least) as well as training time (15 minutes if they’re young). As they grow older you still need to keep training them, playing with them and walking them at least one hour a day although this varies depending on their breed/disposition.
Like I said, dogs are a major commitment – in terms of money and time.
Dogs are not toys for your kids
A reoccurring theme in Doha is that Mr. and Mrs X. get a dog to entertain little Timmy or Khaled or whoever – without realizing the responsibilities that come with dog ownership. Soon enough, their kid loses interest, the dog is a mess, and before you know it the poor creature is out on the street.
If you insist on getting a dog/pet for your child, please be aware that you will more often than not have to pick up the slack, in terms of walking as well as general grooming, hygiene etc. If you are not willing to do it, spare yourself, your child, and more importantly the poor dog the heartache and avoid getting dogs as birthday gifts for your children. That said, a dog can be the best friend your child will ever have.
Dogs must be kept indoors
I find it odd that I have to even mention this, but if you want to leave your dog outside the house all day, please just don’t get one. Temperatures frequently soar beyond 40 degrees Celsius in Qatar, the pavement is so hot their feet get blisters. Leave your dog inside. Check out crate training, or use baby gates, whatever you do, do not leave your dog outside in the heat – they can die from it quite easily.
Before I get to how to get a dog in Doha, first let me tell you how to NOT get a dog – or in other words:
Do not buy a dog or any other animal in Doha from the pet stores in Souq Waqif
Seriously. No matter what you do, do not buy any animals from the pet stores in Souq Waqif. They are repulsive places where animals are physically sick, mistreated, locked in tiny wire mesh cages with no padding for their feet, unvaccinated, kept in filthy conditions, and often far too young to be separated from their mother.
Please do not do it. There are a few other stores around Doha that sell dogs, all are equally disgusting and harmful to the animals they sell. Avoid them at all costs. The only way they will stop selling animals is if no one buys them.
So if you can’t buy your dog at any store in Doha, where should you buy them from?
Good news! You don’t need to buy them at all, you can adopt them for next to nothing!
Adopt, don’t shop
One of the biggest things that stand out on the streets of Qatar is the sheer number of street cats and dogs. There is a serious epidemic of abandoned animals, so much so that animal rescuers in the country know when to anticipate the so-called “dumping season” – which occurs in the summer time when many expatriates leave for their summer vacations, or back to their home countries for good. Thanks to poor planning their pets end up on the streets.
The below are the animal rescue centers currently active in Doha. You would think that the government would have its own form of animal control, and there is a plan for it, but it is still pending. Until then these guys pick up the slack:
The Qatar Animal Welfare Society, or QAWS, is possibly the oldest rescue center in Doha, Qatar. They house hundreds of animals, including a few odd ones like livestock and monkeys. They’ve been around since 2004 so have a good idea about animal rescue in the country. As a non-profit, volunteer managed shelter, they are always over-capacity, and very thinly stretched, so you would be helping out all the animals there if you adopt.
They used to have a website although as of today (29th August 2017) it is currently down, so its best you have a look at their Facebook page to which they post regularly. Keep in mind that they have close to 250 cats and dogs in their care so the vast majority of the animals for adoption are not listed on their page, so you must take a drive up there to seem them for yourself (they’re only open on Friday). They usually ask for a donation of 1,000 QAR to cover the animal’s vaccination, and spaying/neutering operation – which is cheaper than you’d get any vet in Doha.
Another one of the three major rescue animal shelters in Qatar, PAWS hosts a large number of cats and dogs, and again, are over-capacity. They too ask for a donation (also approximately 1,000 QAR). They have a (great) website too, although I am unsure of how updated it is. Your best bet would be to get in touch with them via their Facebook page and take a drive and see the dogs yourself.
Founded by the generous owner of Park View and City View vet clinics in 2009, Second Chance Rescue Qatar is home to a vast array of cats and dogs. They too ask for a donation and have very helpful and friendly staff.
And last but not least:
Find me a Forever Home is an animal rescue Facebook page run by volunteers and animal lovers. It has some very active animal rescuers who often go way, way above the call of duty to save, treat, and re-home animals. Dogs are posted for adoption on a daily basis. Why buy a dog and support a corrupt industry instead of adopting some lovely creatures who need homes?
They only have a Facebook Page though, which you can view even without an account, although if you want to reach out to someone you do need to make a Facebook account (in case you are one of three people left in the world without one).
So there you have it. Now go adopt a dog and make the world slightly less awful.
Up next we will take a look at ranking the veterinary clinics in Doha, as well as the best places to take walk your new best friend.
Follow us on Twitter (@arab_insider) for the latest updates and articles.