A BAN on dogs in public parks, gardens and walkways will be strictly enforced in the Southern Governorate following a public petition.
Signs specifically banning dogs will be put up at these places and anyone caught flouting the ban will face legal action.
The Southern Municipal Council took the decision at its weekly meeting yesterday following a plea signed by 107 people saying the dogs were scaring people and causing panic among families.
“There are already signs banning dogs, and other animals, at public places but people keep flouting the rules,” said council chairman Ahmed Al Ansari.
“The problem is there is no monitoring of these facilities and people tend to do whatever they want knowing they will be spared punishment.
“A group of youths have recently started bringing bulldogs, German shepherds and other huge dogs to public parks, gardens and walkways.
“And they are causing panic among the people.”
Mr Al Ansari said people start leaving the walkways the moment they spot the youths with the dogs.
“For example, I saw a young man walking his dog along with his friends a few nights ago during peak hour on Estiqlal walkway with people, mostly women, keeping a safe distance.
“I reasoned with them and explained the situation, but they said that there was no law against bringing dogs in open spaces, even if there were signs banning animals in general.
“So, I decided to schedule the issue and outlaw walking dogs while setting up special signs make the matter publicly official.
“The Interior Ministry will be informed to provide community police to take action against offenders.”
He added that he was not against dogs, or animals in general, but people had every right to enjoy their time.
“People with dogs can take them for a walk on Zallaq or Askar beaches, or on top of the nearest bridge, or any other space, that people don’t use for recreational purposes.
“Dogs have their rights too but not at the expense of others.
“I have already alerted dog welfare campaigners.”
Meanwhile, Bahrain Strays founder Fathiya Al Bastaki said the mistakes of a few have led to the ban.
“I think my opinion on the ban on dogs has come a bit too late, but again it comes because a few have been causing panic by taking dangerous dogs without a leash or muzzles for a walk,” she said.
“Not all dogs are dangerous. It is up to the trainer or owner on how they shape their dogs.
“But a lot of people get scared when they see dogs. The council took a decision out of its believed concern for the welfare of the people, even if there is no real threat from small or domesticated dogs.”