The Pet Shack; a dream started in November 2015, with a small shop in Abu Dhabi. Three clueless owners that knew absolutely nothing about starting a business, but had one common interest, LOVING ANIMALS and the desire to work in the related field.
Animals walked into our lives in 2008 when we moved to UAE and had our first cat, Moosho with us and Cookie with our Long-life friend and business partner Samah. It triggered a journey of love and compassion we didn’t even know existed. But because of them, we were introduced to the rescue world. We had no idea of the animals suffering or strays’ condition, which was a big shock. Without any hesitation, we knew we had to try and make a difference. Even if it was a small one. We started setting up feeding stations and taking as many cats to the vet clinics whenever they needed medical attention. Then we heard of TNR and after researching a little, understood what it meant. Other cats came to us unexpectedly and we ended up adopting many of them like Beeso, Jojo, Micky, Muffin, Luca, Bee & Clumsy. Stray kittens that stumbled across our paths out of nowhere, they became our family, and they became our babies.
In 2014, while driving in Bateen area in Abu Dhabi, I spotted a small puppy eating trash and it seemed exhausted, weak and scared. Maybe he was lost? Maybe he was abandoned? All these thoughts started racing through our heads. We asked around, knocked on doors until one of the workers in the area confirmed our fears. His owners abandoned him, and they didn’t want him anymore.
We took him to the vet for a check and he was thankfully a healthy 3 months old puppy that we named Max. He came home with us and met our 8 cats and we watched the magic happen! It was if he had been living with us for many months! He just adapted right away, my sister and I, Fatina, decided to adopt him.
Honestly, I was sceptical at first. If you know me, you know that I don’t have a very active lifestyle. I love being home, watching TV and cuddling with my kittens. Which is not the ideal lifestyle for a dog! I couldn’t give him what he needed, active life and adventures. I didn’t hide how I felt from my sister, but she grew an amazing connection with Max and was ready to take full responsibility for him. At that moment, I knew he was a part of our family, and it was the best decision that we made! We truly can’t imagine our lives without him.
Then comes Jazz, a 3-month puppy wondering in Muroor area. He entered our villa and slept under the car, no chip and no owner in sight. In no time, he became Max’s best buddy, and our family grew.
In 2015, Samah decided it was time to adopt a dog. We went to Dubai to see Silver, a story of a rescue we had been following for some time. He had the most incredible eyes ever! He was a 4 years old Shepard mix. I went along of course. When we spoke to the rescuer, she mentioned that he is not very cat-friendly, which was devastating and a deal breaker, as much as he wanted to come home with us. He actually jumped into the front seat of the car during his walk with us! It broke our hearts that we couldn’t take him home but Samah had many cats. We were all standing at the lobby talking to the rescuers when Samah saw Goofy, the cutest, clumsiest Pomeranian ever! At the time his name was Mimi. So adorable and playful with a very big personality for his size. Samah had to take him home and another love story began. After a while, Samah knew that Goofy needed a buddy so she ended up adopting Bella from Abu Dhabi Animal Shelter, the sweetest, most chilled girl ever.
A couple of weeks passed, and we just couldn’t get over how Silver jumped into the front seat of our car with no hesitation saying “take me home”! And yes, you guessed it! We went back for him and did take him home on a trial basis to see if we can maybe try and fix the cat issue. To our surprise, he adapted very well, very quickly! He was easily trained to accept our cats and he was part of the family after one week.
It became very obvious that we needed to do something about our passion, something bigger, something that would truly help us make a difference. A dream of one day having a full-time job working in this field, helping people, pets and strays, what a wonderful life it will be! So we decided to go ahead and take the first step towards this dream.
Anyone would face many difficulties starting a new life, as did we. From all the legal requirements to all the financial surprises that we were not prepared for! But we knew if we didn’t follow our dream, we would still be wondering about all the “what ifs?”, we decided to not give up and we made it happen. We launched our store “The Pet Shack” in Al Reef on November 11, 2015, a day that we will always remember, one of the happiest days of our lives.
We then realized that all the obstacles we faced, in the beginning, was nothing compared to all the surprises we would come across after launching! How difficult it is to be in this business and still maintain ethics in a brutal environment, unethical competitors, variety of products in the markets, supplier’s prices, market prices, margins, expenses, cost of operations. That all was a big burden, but our goal remained the same and we agreed to have these main rules in operating our business:
- We will only sell high-quality products that we give and use with our animals, for example, we will not sell rawhides or harmful materials or supermarket quality food and treats. Just the best, the same as we would do for our children.
- We will NOT sell animals. We will NOT support or encourage, in any way, the puppy mills. We will support, help and spread awareness about rescue and adoption. All these beautiful souls needing homes.
- The Pet Shack is our second home. We will build a family and not just a group of employees who work together. We will hire only those who share our vision, our passion and our love for animals and not employees who clock in and out.
- We will always support rescue groups as much as we can.
- We will continue supporting our community with TNR of street cats and feeding stations.
- We will never compromise our integrity.
It’s not easy to survive in this field. At so many occasions we were so close to giving up, especially since we all still have our full-time day jobs and we go back to managing our shops hoping one day to grow big enough to see our dream of having a one-stop centre with everything your pets need, whether in supplies or services. With your help and the trust you put in us, we believe will achieve this, inshallah.
3 years have passed since we started the business. We are now home of so many pets; dogs, cats and parrots. We cherish every moment we get to share with them. It’s heartwarming that our family is growing bigger with all of you, you and your babies are our families too! We’re truly lucky to share this journey with you all.
Our Big Furry family:
K9: Max, Jazz, Silver, Blue, Goofy, Bella, Flash, Sky, Tony, Luna, Artick, Storm, Mama, Diva and Jack.
Felines: Moosho, Micky, Muffin, Beeso, Jojo, Joey, Oogy, Timon, Lilly, Mica, Mamito, Ash, Keano, Sushi, Pixie, Snow, Shadow, Gingy, Patchy, Sky, Kelly, Tuxedo Clumsy, Snowy, Lucky, Meshmesh, Nala, Bee, Tulip and Samara
Parrots: Luca & Ruby – (African Greys)
We will not forget our beloved pets that have crossed over the rainbow bridge: Cookie, Mica, Simba & Wiggly, we will always love you and we miss you terribly.
Our Pets Gallery:
2 thoughts on “The Pet Shack Journey: A Journey of Unconditional Love to Pets”
I just love your story and admire you all for never giving up!
What you do for all the animals and the community is amazing and we have to be grateful to all of you!
When I moved to Al Reef in January 2017, I was so worried about where or who would take care of my cats when we would be trvelling and we were so happy to find the Pet Shack and that you also offered pet sitting and we were even happier to find out that Richie and Rusty were the pet sitters, because they were the first people to take care of my cat Felix when I used to board him at Cloud9 many years ago and I knew they were the best ones who could take care of my boys. So both my husband and I are very happy, not only to have the twins taking care of our boys when we travel, but also the convenience of having a pet supply store in the community!
The next step, maybe in the near future, would be to open up the first cat cafe in Abu Dhabi, which is long overdue, maybe integrated in your one-stop-centre one day!
Meanwhile, I will be praying and hoping that you will all succeed in whatever you choose to do.
Good luck and keep on going, for the animals and the people that you help.
Lots of love and kitty kisses from Felix and Finn.
Woh what a story