Dogs at play at Al Qudra lake, Dubai. Owners in Jumeirah Village Circle head to this site every Saturday to exercise their pets and give them place to expend their energy. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: A group of pet owners has organised a weekly day trip for their dogs at one of the lakes at Al Qudra area in Dubai

The moves comes to help dog owners because lack of dog parks in residential communities have deprived dog owners of the opportunity to take their furry friends out for their daily walk.

Signs placed in most parks inside residential communities clearly state there are no pet zones.

American Jessica Haden, 27, a Dubai resident, who has a Saluki dog, said the Saturday play date at Al Qudra gives the dogs an opportunity to “just run and release that energy”.

Pet owners at Jumeirah Village Circle (JVC) get together every weekend and proceed to Al Qudra for an evening play date, where 15-20 dogs of different breeds get the chance to freely run around and play in the sand. “Dogs are banned everywhere including parks and even beaches. More and more places are becoming ‘no pet’ zones, and it’s very difficult for dog owners to find an area where they can let their dogs release their energy,” said Haden.

Living in Dubai for over four years, Haden pointed out that while the city is generally not very pet-friendly, irresponsible dog owners play a role in the increasing number of restrictions placed against pets. “Some owners bring it upon themselves by not cleaning after their dogs, and ruin it for everyone else. Improper inbreeding and abandoning pets is another issue, which has led to more restrictions,” said Haden.

According to Dubai Government’s website, failing to clean up and dispose of your dog’s waste or leftovers in a plastic bag when taking the dog out can attract a fine of Dh200 along with a written undertaking that the offence will not be repeated. If the violation is repeated, the dog is impounded and the owner is charged Dh400. If the dog’s owner does not pay the fine within three working days, the veterinary section will confiscate the dog.

British expat Jules Batty-Smith, 45, said placing waste bins in designated dog parks could encourage more irresponsible dog owners to clean up after their dogs. While it might not solve the problem, it could help improve the situation and, hopefully, lead to creating more designated areas for dogs in Dubai. “Dogs need their exercise. Here in JVC the undeveloped land is a good spot for now until the area is built up and we have the same problem again,” said Batty-Smith. The Dubai resident is one of many dog owners in the area who enjoy going on the Al Qudra trip, where her three dogs don’t have to be on a leash.

Nabeel Musbah, 35, from Egypt, an owner of a Great Dane, said the group of dog owners that take part in the Al Qudra trip ensure that the site is well kept and left spotless before they leave. “We have three rules — pick up after your dog, pick up your trash after yourself and set an example for everyone else,” said the Dubai resident. Nabeel pointed out that while pets were allowed in JVC when he first moved in over five years ago, the area is slowly becoming unfriendly for pets. He explained that more parks are placing signs that either prohibit pets or state that they should be kept on a leash. “New tenants are not allowed to have pets as a result of other residents complaining about the number of dogs in the area,” said Nabeel. With more of Dubai becoming pet unfriendly, Nabeel listed culture and a lack of education about pets as some of the reasons dogs are not welcome in the society.

While pet owners continue to struggle, those who break the rules have to pay the price. The law states that taking your dog into a prohibited area by order of the concerned authority or management including but not limited to parks, beaches and shopping malls can be fined Dh200 for a first offence and Dh400 and an undertaking for a second offence. “So for now, the Al Qudra trip once a week is all the exercise the dogs will get,” said Nabeel.