One of About 5M Stray Animals in Egypt
If you visit Cairo, Egypt, you cannot help but notice the large numbers of stray dogs and cats all around the city. According to the Egyptian Gazette, there are approximately 5 million stray animals living on the streets of Egypt.
Stray Dog Looks for Food in Cairo
Sad looking stray dogs slink around the tourist destinations looking starved and thirsty. Entire litters of kittens skitter through the centuries-old Khan al-Khalili market hoping to catch a discarded crumb to eat. Packs of dogs roam along the Nile, scrounging through trash.
Cruel Eradication Procedures for Stray Animals in Cairo
Many of these stray animals face miserable lives that include not only deprivation, but outright torture. And every year, numerous stray dogs and cats are shot by Cairo authorities as part of a seasonal stray animal eradication program. According to the Society for the Protection of Animal Rights in Egypt (S.P.A.R.E.):
Recently, Egyptian authorities responded to citizens’ complaints by shooting a pack of stray dogs who were left to die slowly or left to live with broken bones and permanent paralysis. Common killing methods of the public include drowning, starving and torturing strays for either entertainment or eradication. Glass filled meat is also fed to dogs which causes them to suffer extreme pain as the food is being digested.
Animal Cruelty Laws Are Lacking
Stray Cat Surviving in Khan al-Khalili Market, Cairo
Animals in Egypt are not afforded much protection in the law. Article 357 of the Egyptian Penal Code criminalizes the willful killing or harming “without purport” of a domesticated animal and provides for up to six months in jail or a fine of up to 200 LE (approximately $35 US).
Article 355 provides for a harsher punishment for the willful killing of livestock to include a sentence of penal servitude. According to S.P.A.R.E., Article 355 was adopted in 1937 to prevent Egyptian farmers from killing each other’s animals out of revenge. Article 357 was added in 1982 to include some protection for non-wild animals not mentioned in Article 355.
Unfortunately, the way the laws are drafted, and considering the sheer numbers of strays roaming the streets of Cairo, a person killing or harming an animal could likely claim they were simply trying to get rid of one more stray. In fact, as the Egyptian Gazette reports, Dr. Sayyed Hegazi, a “veterinary expert,” recently advocated mixing poison into the garbage that stray dogs and cats eat.
Fortunately, groups such as S.P.A.R.E., the Egyptial Society of Animal Friends, and other Egyptian Federation for Animal Welfare organizations are working to rescue and shelter animals, advocate for stronger animal abuse laws educate the Egyptian public about animal welfare.