Passionate about animals – his menagerie comprises nine dogs and 20 cats – Shree Nair wanted to give the community a platform for celebrating their furry friends, socialising with fellow pet owners and learning more about animals. As Abu Dhabi Pet Festival returns on 15th March with plenty of pawsome activities for the whole family, editor Rachael Perrett speaks with Shree about educating youngsters about animals, funny fancy dress and international accolades.
What was the inspiration for Abu Dhabi Pet Festival?
People have pets and they don’t have an avenue where they can take their pets around for picnics or other functions.
So we created the festival in such a way that pet owners who are serious about taking their dogs or cats for competitions, we organise them with international bodies and also have fun competitions and an educational section.
Every year it’s growing bigger because people are becoming more aware of it and give this day to participate with their pets.
We even have people coming from Saudi Arabia and Oman. We also have a lot of families that come with their pets, because we have food and beverage options, kids’ play areas, competitions for children, a cartoonist – everyone can enjoy it.
This is the seventh edition. What’s going on at the festival this year?
We have dog shows organised in association with World Kennel Union, which has members in many other countries and they have competitions for pedigree dogs.
Then we have the World Cat Federation looking at the cats. We have an organisation here called Emirates Kennel Club. If people belong to this club or any recognised kennel club, they can join.
The certifications are valued internationally and the dogs can get international and world champion titles. For education, we have a petting farm where children can get up close with farm animals like goats, rabbits and birds, because children are not aware of things like where milk comes from these days.
We also have adoption and animal welfare activities where different agencies will come and tell people how to take care of stray animals, not to hurt animals or what to do if you want to give away a cat or dog. We also have a police demonstration with the police K9 dogs.
Are there any new elements this year?
The first national championship for dogs is happening this year. There are different breed groups of dogs and they are according to the international standards.
There’s a fancy dress competition, too. What’s the funniest costume you’ve seen?
There was a lady dressed up like a tree. She had a parrot in her hand, a cat on her hip and a dog sitting down. She stood like a tree with branches all over.
What types of pets can people bring along? Any pets that are not banned by the ministry, like pythons. Every pet that comes is checked for its vaccinations and gets a health check.
We also check dogs for aggression and they’ll be classified into three levels – red, blue or green – and have ribbons tied around their neck so we can avoid accidents.
15th March. Entrance is free. du Arena, Yas Island. 3pm-10pm. Register online at petfestival.ae