CAIRO: A Maadi effort to trap, neuter or spay, vaccinate and release stray animals is an initiative launched by a group of Maadi residents and animal advocates to raise awareness about animal cruelty and to solve the problem of strays in the affluent district.
The group was founded February 18 by Rasha Hassanain and Aya Abdel Salam. Abdel Salam and Hassanain were volunteers at the Society for the Protection of Animal Rights in Egypt animal shelter, where they met.
“We used to work separately on projects at that time, like on animal rescue cases and finding homes for stray animals,” Abdel Salam said.
Since its founding the group has managed to collect more than 100 stray cats throughout the Maadi area, and provide them with rabies vaccines and needed treatments.
“It all started beneath my work place in Maadi, where there are stray dogs that I felt deep sympathy toward due to their amount of suffering,” Abdel Salam said.
Abdel Salam said Hassanain helped her find shelters for the dogs, and that’s when Hassanain initiated the idea to expand that activity to other stray animals in Maadi.
“We started our project through a Facebook group, since we know how powerful social media networks are, and we have around 145 members so far, all Maadi residents,” Abdel Salam said, adding that they wanted to focus initially on the Maadi area so that their work could be concentrated, but they hope in the future to expand throughout Cairo and Egypt.
“Our main target is to spread awareness and inspire other people to follow our path in different areas around Cairo. It is not a hard job to do, nor is it time consuming, and it can help save the lives of many stray animals,” Abdel Salam said.
The Maadi TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) team travels around Maadi with private cars and traps stray cats on a weekly basis, delivering them to partner vets, the I-Vet Clinic of Mohamed Shehata and the British Animal Hospital of Karim Hegazy and Ahmed Nabarway.
Hassanain said both vets were excited about the idea, and have exerted great effort in helping them. “They sometimes help animals for free, they accept very severe cases and operate on animals. We have managed a deal with them to have fixed rates for animal vaccinations and operations, up to a 50 percent discount on prices,” she added.
Dr. Shehata’s assistant vets also help capture the animals from the streets, Hassanain said. “We then notch the cats’ ears so that we are able to keep track which cats were treated and which ones weren’t,” Abdel Salam said.
TNR operates through donations and fundraising. They held a garage sale in Maadi where volunteers donated clothes, accessories, even cupcakes. The money went straight to the vets they cooperate with, they said. “We never take money individually, and when people want to donate money, we ask them to pay directly to the vets” Abdel Salam said, mentioning that they can be contacted through their Facebook group.
“On our Facebook group, we always update the members and donators on a monthly basis regarding how much money was collected and how it was used, in detail,” Hassanain said.
TNR has thus far only dealt with cats because it can be tough to catch dogs to treat for rabies, as they can be aggressive. “So we have ordered blow pipes from abroad, that works from a distance and produces sedative vaccines. That would allow us to catch dogs easily, so next week we will start doing that,” Abdel Salam said.
Abdel Salam said thousands of pounds are spent each year by the government to buy animal poison to kill stray animals, when it’s just as easy to help the animals. “That’s why we are hoping for our initiative to spread among residents in other areas,” she said.
“There are only around eight animal shelters in Egypt, which is very limited in space and resources, that is why individual voluntary work is needed,” she added.