They were born believing the streets are their home. No matter how unsafe home is, they don’t have anywhere else to go to, it’s where they belong. Even if that means facing kicks from people passing by while peacefully sleeping, or searching in trash for leftovers for a meal to survive for days on. They are lucky when they escape torture by kids who find it funny seeing other living creatures suffer in agony. Living on the streets means fearing being killed brutally by people who hate them or are fed up with having them around their neighbourhoods. This is simply the life of stray dogs in Egypt.
“3701 stray dogs were executed in Giza last June [only],” said Ashraf Ismail, head of the Giza Veterinary Authorities, to Al-Masry El-Youm.
“Usually, they are being culled using Strychnine, which is a poisoning substance dogs are injected with,” said Yasser El-Serafy, Head of veterinarians professors at Al-Mansoura University. When the body is firstly injected with Strychnine, it gets fully paralysed then all the system begins shutting down one by one beginning with the respiratory system until it reaches the nervous system causing death.
The process is very fast, only minutes, yet it’s still painful, according to El-Serafy. In the past, stray dogs were shot to make the process faster and less painful, but bystanders were at risk of getting injured from stray bullets.
“These dogs are considered dangerous to the residents of neighbourhoods, so we have to get rid of them,” he added.
However, animal activist, Abdo Jo, recommended taking stray dogs “off the streets by building them shelters to live in after their sterilisation”. “That way their numbers wouldn’t increase, yet they wouldn’t be harmed,” he said.
On the other hand, El-Serafy believes that Egypt doesn’t have the privilege of doing such a thing as it has “more important stuff to take care of”. Moreover, he sees that the benefits of killing stray dogs are more than the disadvantages. “Many of them are carrying diseases and viruses that might be fatal for humans,” he noted.
“The Veterinary Authorities don’t kill animals unless they are sure they are harmful or if they receive complaints about them,” he assured.
This is despite the authorities’ admission that stray dogs can be trained and used for security purposes, especially in the countryside like protecting crops from being stolen in rural areas. They still insist on killing them in most residential areas.
On the other hand, animal rescue organisations try to save as much street animals as possible from the dark fate.
“Last year, we managed to rescue at least 400 animals all by ourselves,” said Abdo Jo. “But we can’t afford to rescue anymore because we’re self funded and saving the animals and treating them requires huge amounts of money.”
The Cairo Animal Rescue Team (CART) and the Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animal (ESMA) are the main two organisations that work on saving stray dogs and cats, treating them in private clinics, and putting them up for adoption for a more suitable environment to live in.
According to Abdo, the doors of both shelters are about to be closed in the face of animals who need to be removed from the streets as they are in debt to the private clinic owners who charge them for treating the stray animals just like any other privately-owned pets.
“We can’t go on with our message without the support of the people anymore and all what the government wants is to simply kill them,” Abdo concluded.