CAIRO: Residents of the Maadi district have reported seeing poisoned stray dogs lying dead in the street, and are slamming the government for adopting an “unmerciful” way to deal with the crisis of stray dogs.
Thousands of animals are poisoned across Egypt every year using a deadly pesticide called strychnine, the former Deputy Head of the Veterinarian Services Authority Hassan Shafiq told The Cairo Post Thursday.
The killing mainly occurs through either injection or by poisoned food, as opposed to shooting the animals in the past. The process does not include medical examination to the dog to check whether it is dangerous to the public or carrying a disease, according to interviews with veterinarian experts.
“There are many stray dogs in the streets in Egypt because of the accumulated piles of rubbish,” he said. According to him, poisoning dogs is the most “practical, effective and cost-effective way for Egypt to end the crisis.”
Neutering surgeries, another alternative solutions according to Shafiq, cost around 400 EGP ($51)for each dog, “which is a burden to the state’s budget.”
Some neighborhoods send complaints about dogs gathering in their areas, and thus, the Veterinarian Services Authority also sends “trained” vets to these areas to kill the dogs, according to Shafiq.
Authorities choose to kill homeless dogs because it is the best choice for the public interest, Senior Head of Veterinary doctors, Yasser el-Serafy told The Cairo Post. He continued, “for example, some complaints say that residents are sometimes threatened from dogs barking all the time outside their buildings and at passersby.”
Serafy added that many stray dogs are vulnerable to be infected with scabies as well as rabies.
“What is taking place by the government is unmerciful and leads to an environmental disaster,” Dina Zulfaqqar, a well-known animal rights activist said in comments to The Cairo Post. She said that the killing of the dogs is based on “unexamined complaints and baseless reports by the Ministry of Health about the frequent use of rabies vaccine.”
Zulfaqqar explained “the frequent used of the vaccines is normal among vets who are dealing with animals on a daily basis, but it is not an indication that there are many people were bitten or that the biting animal is a dog.”
She continued “the only documented cases of rabies in the records were in 2013 for two cows and two horses.”
“The poisoned food thrown to the dogs could also infect the soil, and endanger people’s lives, including rubbish collectors who use their bare hands,” added Zulfaqqar.
She said that the government is violating recommendations by both the World Health Organizations and the World Organization for Animal Health, as well as Islamic Sharia (law,) “which urges and guides us for mercifulness in dealing with animals.”
Awareness campaigns at schools are highly recommended, she said, to discuss compassion and mercy in dealing with animals.
Stray dogs and cats have been ubiquitous on Egypt’s streets for years, and although they are not typically mistreated, recent cases have been reported raising backlash from Egyptians against cruelty in dealing with animals.
In May, animal rights activists organized protests against the killing of six puppies in Alexandria after a man fatally beat them with a piece of wood.
In February, a video of a dog named “Max” being stabbed to death went viral and the perpetrators have been sentenced to prison.