Dog owners in Dubai Marina said they are being forced to either break the rules or reconsider their living arrangements following a sudden ban on dogs from the promenade where they walk their pets.
Animal lovers woke up earlier this week to signs erected by developer Emaar that dogs were no longer allowed on the walkway, a decision taken without warning.
Dogs are already banned from Jumeirah Beach Residences’ Walk and the beach, leaving owners with few options when it comes to exercising their pets.
Eli Bou Merhy, who started an online petition against the clampdown, said dog owners were hoping to reach common ground with Emaar.
“Many of us made the decision to move to the area because of its dog-friendly environment, and now we are being told that dogs are no longer allowed on to the promenade,” he said. “We are hoping to find a solution that will satisfy both us and Emaar.”
Mr Merhy said that many dog owners in Dubai Marina have no other option but to keep walking the dogs in the area.
“I don’t want to break any rules but I am going to have to keep walking my dog in the area because I have no other choice,” he said. “Our other options are either move, to get in our cars and take them to other open spaces or to places where we will have to pay about Dh100 for them to play. This is not ideal. We are willing to collaborate and, of course, clean up after our dogs, something that most dog owners already do.”
Rafael Lemaitre, a dog owner and Dubai Marina resident, said he and other dog owners planned to send Emaar’s chief executive a letter urging him to reverse a ban that he thinks breaches basic animal rights.
“We truly believe that this decision is not aligned with Emaar’s spirit of ‘shaping lifestyles’ or with its core values and practices,” he said. “We, in fact, believe this decision to be a step back for Dubai, a city that aims to become one the greatest cities to live and work and that has become a welcoming place with great quality of life.”
Ana Aguilar, who has lived in Dubai Marina for six years, said the most upsetting aspect of the whole situation was that there was no prior consultation or warning that such a decision will be enforced.
“One day everything was fine, and the next day bins allocated for throwing away dog waste were gone and, instead, there were the signs,” she said. “I have no other choice but to keep walking my dog in the area or [Dubai Municipality] should allocate a nearby place where we can take our pets.
“I understand that some people do not like dogs but we all have to be tolerant.”
Ramona C, who has lived in Dubai Marina for three years, said Emaar’s decision to ban dogs was irresponsible and inconsiderate to tenants, most of whom have yearly contracts.
“We signed our contract just last month, if we knew that dogs were going to be banned from the marina promenade, we would have re-evaluated our decision to sign,” she said. “Emaar should have at least given us a one-year warning.
“I love where I live, and I love my apartment, but I will move for my dog if I have to.”
Ramona also said she was concerned that such a decision would increase the number of dogs in shelters, most of which were already at full capacity.
“If dogs are not welcome in Dubai, then please stop importing them,” she said.
Emaar said their decision was per the guidelines of Dubai Municipality to keep the premises clear, safe, hygienic and healthy at all times.
“We have requested our visitors to kindly refrain from bringing their pets along the Marina Promenade, as part of the hygienic measures,” it said in a statement.
Mr Nasser Al Falasi, of the Dubai Dogs Society, urged dog owners to be responsible when walking their pets.
“It is unfortunate that such an abrupt decision was taken but, at the end of the day, Emaar has the right to enforce it because it is their property,” he said. “The actions of a few have ruined it for other dog owners.
“When you walk your dog in any area in Dubai, you are not only representing yourself as a person but every dog owner in Dubai society.”