Egypt Poisons Cats and Dogs as Shelters Struggle to Survive

Published September 18th, 2017 - 07:10 GMT
Animal Rights activist Bilkes Ibrahem runs the Habiba Animal Shelter in Cairo (Facebook)
Animal Rights activist Bilkes Ibrahem runs the Habiba Animal Shelter in Cairo (Facebook)
  • Egyptian authorities and some facilities favored by the country's elite admit poisoning homeless animals
  • Animal abuse is common and those who harm animals are rarely punished by the authorities
  • Activists are working hard and risking their lives to save cats, dogs and other animals across Egypt
  • But sadly he country's animal shelters are struggling to stay open due to a lack of funds and donations

Earlier this year animal rights activist Sanaa Alaa saw some chicken bones covered in a blue substance near her home on the outskirts of Cairo.

She attempted to dispose of the package but was later hospitalized after allegedly being poisoned with Strychnine, a deadly poison used by authorities to kill stray animals in Egypt.

Alaa's case is just one example of the risks faced by the people who work tirelessly to defend their four-legged friends in a country where animals are poisoned and tortured for fun.

The streets of the Egyptian capital are a difficult place for any four-legged creature. Horrific violence against animals is common and the perpetrators mostly remain unpunished.

Meanwhile, the number of animals on the street increases as Cairo’s hard-working shelters struggle to cope with demand.

Those who remain on the streets also must contend with the ever-present threat of poisoning by government officials who see homeless animals as little more than a pest to be disposed of.

One refuge, which currently houses and cares for over a hundred cats, dogs and monkeys is the Habiba Animal Shelter, located in an unassuming building on the outskirts of the capital.

Owner Bilkes Ibrahem says that the country’s animal shelters are facing a tough situation.

“There is nothing easy about managing a shelter in Egypt, it's hard when it comes to financing a place like this, especially with the increasing number of animals, while waiting for people to help. It’s tough to bring in donations because of the current economic circumstances in Egypt,” she said.

Ibrahem has been running the shelter for more than a decade, an idea which started after she rescued a number of street cats.

“I started by helping people with rescuing cats. My first rescue was an orphan Arabic mau kitten. Then I started to think about having a safe place for them to live,” she added.

Despite her dedication to animal rights, Ibrahem receives no support or funding from the government or any state bodies and instead relies entirely on public donations.

“The biggest challenge is to continue managing the shelter as I don't take any financial aid /support from the government,” she said.

“People who are fighting for animal rights are being criticized by the general public poverty and mental ignorance. They say that humans don't get rights from the government so why expect animal rights. We face a lot of aggression for trying to help animals in Egypt,” she said.

The situation for animals across Egypt, from starving horses and camels at the country's top tourist sights to rampant  animal abuse on the streets of Cairo. Sadly, the abuse and torture of animals rarely results in a sentence or even prosecution.

In 2015, 2 men were sentenced to 3 months in prison while another was given just one month behind bars for torturing and killing a beloved pet dog, known as Max. The killing sparked outrage after it was videoed and put online.

Exclusive private members clubs and residential compounds favored by the country's elite are also known for poisoning stray kittens and puppies who are unlucky enough to be born within their walls.

Their poison of choice for both the government and private killer is usually Strychnine, a lethal toxin known to cause a painful and protracted death.

However Ibrahem, still believes that the situation can change through education and awareness.
“We need school campaigns for children along with indirect campaigns for the people to show that animals have rights and that they have right to share the planet with us. We also need to apply a deterrent punishment for whoever violates the rights of animals in Egypt,” she said.

The activist now hopes to expand the shelter so that it will remain for many generations to come.

“I wish I could help a bigger number at this time and the shelter would depend on itself with or without me, even after I pass away,” she added.

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