Do you have a furry pet to call your own? Or perhaps something best kept in the water. Would you like to invite one of these into your home? Or perhaps you are just an animal lover and would like to know how to help. Whichever category you fall into, we’ve got all the pet essentials for you.
First, let’s talk about if you would like to bring your pet to the Czech Republic. Most important thing is to talk to your vet back home first. They should be able to provide you with information on what needs to be done. Basically, for most people, your pet will need to have a microchip and all vaccinations up to date. Also, be sure to choose your airline very carefully and investigate exactly how it is your pet will be transported. If you have a dog, once you arrive you’ll find Prague extremely happy Fido is here. Dogs are allowed almost everywhere – stores and small shops, along with government buildings seem to be the exception. They are allowed on public transport, but must be leashed and muzzled, and if they are not in a carrier you’ll need to buy a basic (26CZK) ticket for them.
Veterinarians are an important part of your pet’s life – and if you are from a Western country, will probably find them extremely cheap. Ask your neighbors or other pet owners for recommendations or check the Expats Veterinarian section. In Prague 6, Veterinární ordinace Hvězda (Čílova 9, 235 350 848) has seen some happy pups and in Prague 4, Dr. Miloš Pánek (Podolské nábř. 20, 602 538 338) runs a highly recommended clinic – and it’s non-stop. Also in Prague 4, is an animal hospital that has regular office hours plus 24-hour emergency care. Veterinární nemocnice Libuš (www.vetnemocnice.cz) has an intensive care unit, after surgery treatment center, the ability to conduct a range of diagnostic tests, plus a shop to buy shampoo, food, vitamins, etc. If you can read Czech, www.vetweb.cz is a magazine for vets and has lots of useful information.
This brings us to your pet’s most likely favorite topic – food. Most Western brands can be found here – including specialized ones like Eukanuba, Almpo Nature, Hill’s, Acana, Royal Canine and Pro Plan. Some specialized versions may only be available at your vet’s – but nearly all vet’s stock food. You can also pick up anti-tick medications from them, The Czech Republic has a lot of ticks so this is very important for your dog to use if you plan on being in any green spaces at all.
If you are going somewhere your pet may not be so welcome, there are some options for you. The tagline for Paul’s Dog Hotel (www.doghotel.cz) is “where your dog vacations.” Based on the looks of the place, you may want to vacation there too. Located about 30 kilometers from Prague, they’ve got lots of wide open space and seemingly reasonable rates. They also offer a dog taxi service to bring Muffy to their place from yours. If you need a place to keep Muffin, let her relax in style at Hotel Mazlíček (www.hotelmazlicek.webpark.cz.) They are a family run business that offers heated cat suites.
ZooServis (http://www.toptours.cz/Zooservis/index_en.html) offers pet sitting in your home and walking as well. Mam Rad Psa (www.mamradpsa.cz) offers a load of dog-related services. Their English section isn’t as extensive, but they kindly offer to assist you with whatever you need if you email them. They too offer dog walking and minding, but they only provide dog walking prices online. If you need a groomer, Salon Fosca at the same site offers brushing, trims, shampoos, nail trims and other assorted beauty treatments. Mam Rad Psa also offers a pet taxi as well as crate rentals. Looking for some professional snaps of Fluffy? They also offer pet photography. Their e-shop is all in Czech, but there are photos of all items and they carry a ton of stuff.
Mam Rad Psa has a small section of clothing, but if your pet is a real fashionista, they must explore Luxury Dog (www.luxurydog.cz.) Italian-made cashmere sweaters and bejeweled collars and leashes will make FiFi better dressed then you. Shoes, specially sized wardrobes to hang your collection as well as fancy dog treats and a classy collection of bowls; the list of things you didn’t know you needed or even that they existed goes on and on. They also have a section for cat items if yours would tolerate such injustices.
We’ve talked lots about the furry ones – but let’s not forget our aquatic friends – check Aqua Tropic Lonský (www.lon.cz) for an excellent range of fish food. Most pet shops also stock all your aquarium needs, but it may be better to find a specialty shop for a better selection or any hard to find items.
If you think you’d like to own a pet of your own – remember, it’s a lifelong commitment and if you are unsure of how long you will be here or are in a not so stable living situation it’s probably best to make friends with existing pet owners and offer to pet sit. It’s cruel to bring an animal into your home for only a short period of time and then try and re-house him. However, if you have thought long and hard and have decided you are ready to make the commitment there are some resources available. If you’d like to start small, many of the city’s larger pet shops have rabbits and guninea pigs and the like. The Pet Center – chovatelské potřeby (www.petcenter.cz) in Nový Smíchov is one such place.
Unfortunately, the city of Prague’s main shelter for both dogs and cats (www.upozpraha.cz) does not adopt to foreigners. However if you have permanent residence (trvaly pobyt) you are probably okay. Let friends and other dog owners know you are looking as well to help spread the word. If you would like to adopt a cat, visit Kočky Online (www.kocky-online.cz.) It’s all in Czech, but basically it’s a group project of cat organizations across the country in order to raise awareness about the cat population here and find homes for the homeless ones. Locally OS Podbrdsko (firstname.lastname@example.org) rescues and houses cats until permanent homes can be found. This is an all-volunteer group that fosters the cats in their homes. They are always looking for assistance, from foster homes to donations of supplies and money. If you are looking to get involved and are a cat lover, check with them. The Animal Protection Trust (www.ochranazvirat.cz) also welcomes volunteers and you can look into the Prague Society for Protecting Animals (www.psoz.cz) as well.
Proposed new dog laws have some locals fearing the worse for this dog-loving country. An animal protection bill has passed the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, but as of yet hasn’t been signed into law by President Klaus. However, it is expected he will sign it and the new regulations would come into effect in 2009. The bill contains lots of new rules; including new regulations on animal transport and increased fines for animal cruelty. There’s also a line in there about a 50,000 CZK fine for not having your dog on a lead. Since the majority of dogs here mostly run free it will be interesting to see the discussions that will most likely continue on this issue. Currently though, the law does say if your dog is not on a lead in a park, you can be fined 1,000 CZK. Look for parks with designated “free dog run” signs just to be on the safe side.
One final dog resource site, again all in Czech is Hafici (www.hafici.cz.) They have a dog encyclopedia, e-shop for supplies and message boards to chat. Their kitty counterpart is Miciny (www.miciny.cz.)
And don’t forget: Help control the pet population and have your pet spayed or neutered.