City chiefs ban all dogs from beaches, shopping centres, public parks, swimming pools and restaurants for reasons of cleanliness.
Dogs banned from Abu Dhabi's parks and beaches
ABU DHABI // City chiefs yesterday banned all dogs from beaches, shopping centres, public parks, swimming pools and restaurants.
Guide dogs for blind people are included in the ban, municipality official Dr Najdat M Nour said, but he said as far as he knew there were no guide dogs in Abu Dhabi.
No specific penalties are in place yet for owners who flout the ban. "We want people to keep things clean. We don't want to fine people," said Dr Nour, the head of veterinary control at the municipality.
"We just want Abu Dhabi to be clean, and we want people to know how they can help to keep that image."
Dr Nour said the municipality received numerous complaints from residents about pet owners not clearing up the mess left behind by their dogs.
"When most people walk their dogs, they leave the faeces in the gardens, in the parks, on the beaches," he said. "This is the problem, and we needed to do something about it."
Dogs will still be permitted in other public areas, along the Corniche, on roadways and pavements, and in gardens. The municipality plans to open designated dog parks for animals both on and off a lead, but Dr Nour could not say when.
Khalifa Mohammed al Rumaithi, the director of public health, said the municipality also planned an awareness campaign aimed at "urging owners and custodians of companion dogs to comply with health and safety guidelines".
One of the city's priorities is encouraging dog owners to keep their animals on a lead, to ensure the safety of both people and their pets.
The ban is the first in a set of new rules and regulations for pet owners that are expected to be in place by the middle of the year. In addition to a dog-lead law, the municipality is working on developing a system for dog and cat registration. Laws on the enforcement of mandatory immunisation and monitoring by microchips are also in the works.
Jennifer Triplett, an administrator at the British Veterinary Centre in Khalidya and a dog owner, said she agreed with the need for designated dog parks, but she does not expect the regulation to make much of a difference. She said she thought the capital already had a ban in place.
"It's pretty well known that dogs aren't welcome in parks as it is now," Ms Triplett said. "I never see people walking their dogs on the beaches anyway. People usually have their own yards or areas for their dogs."
Afra al Dhaheri, a 23-year-old Emirati who lives in Khalifa City, said she and some of her friends were shocked by the ban. She has five dogs and walks them every day, often along the Corniche and in parks.
"Why allow anyone to even have pets if we aren't going to be allowed to walk them?" she said. "I definitely do not agree with the ban, and I'm so upset I don't even really know what to say."
The host of a Facebook page called UAE Pet Lovers, Ms al Dhaheri said she was considering organising a mass dog-walking parade to highlight the new regulation.
The municipality said the ban was necessary to ensure public health and to protect the environment.
"Dogs can still go anywhere, except these few places," Dr Nour said.
"Dogs are allowed in Abu Dhabi. We just want Abu Dhabi to keep its good image."