Dog owners bemoan lack of walking spots in Abu Dhabi

Pet lovers want more designated spots to walk their four-legged friends.

Dog owners in Abu Dhabi say they are restricted in terms of places to exercise their pet pooches. Rich-Joseph Facun / The National
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ABU DHABI // Dog owners have complained about the lack of places to walk their four-legged friends, saying the emirate needs more designated parks.

Shaded, fenced and segregated expanses for small and large dogs would improve the quality of life for their animals, owners said. There are only a few places where dogs are not banned, such as the kitesurfing beach on Yas Island.

“It would be great if there were more appropriate places to walk dogs,” said Jane Sigsworth, a canine behaviourist and dog owner. “The kitesurfing beach is used a lot for fishing, camping and parties. There is a lot of fishing wire and hooks and foodstuff left around, which is dangerous for dogs.”

There should be designated dog parks, she said, “places that are fully fenced so that dogs can run and play in a safe environment. In an ideal world these would also have some water and plenty of shaded areas”.

The area should be zoned to segregate large and small dogs to allow them to play safely, and with areas for on and off-lead walking, she said.

“There are a lot of people ... in Abu Dhabi for whom a dog is part of the family,” Ms Sigsworth said. “To have appropriate places to take their dog would have huge benefits in terms of quality of life – for the family and the dog.”

Marwa Hassan, a Canadian-Egyptian expatriate, has a labrador called Bingo. “There is no decent place for our dog to walk or play and run,” she said.

Animal lovers share information about the few places where dogs can play. These include an unofficial dog park next to Mushrif Palace, which includes a fenced area. Some take their dogs to a beach near Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, while others take their dogs to the so-called “bridge to nowhere” linking Bateen Beach and Hudariyat Island.

“There are not enough places to go to,” said Ashley Lancaster, 29. “I would love to see more places to take them for walks.”

Resident Noor Badri struggles to find somewhere to walk her Yorkshire terrier Hugo.

“Because there aren’t any allocated locations it is difficult to know what is a big no-no and what is acceptable,” she said. “It would be great to have more freedom to take my dog out and also for him to meet and play with other dogs in a safe environment.”

Matthias Jokel, 30, a German expatriate, lives in Mushrif with two pugs, Indie and Finley. He walks the dogs near Mushrif Palace. “I would be more than happy to pay a small fee to be able to use a dog park.”

In 2011, the municipality banned dogs from public beaches, shopping centres, parks, swimming pools and restaurants.