Update from Egypt: Field Report from Our Partner on the Ground
This story was filed from Egypt by Susie Nassar, Founding Member Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals (ESMA). The International Fund for Animal Welfare is providing support to ESMA to help Egyptian animals affected by the recent political turmoil there. - DG
The turmoil in Egypt started on 25th January 2011. We didn't really feel the consequences of this at the ESMA shelter until several days later when a curfew was implemented and it became clear it was dangerous to be on the streets. During the same period food shortages started to appear and it became increasingly difficult to find food and cleaning supplies as people started panic buying and many of the big hyper markets were burnt down....
At the same time road blocks were set up and it physically became almost impossible to reach any destination, including our shelter. Gas was also unavailable as most of the gas stations did not have gas.
Our vet was not able to reach the shelter and neither were we. The only solution was to make an agreement with the workers (mostly cleaning staff) to take over and we agreed with some of them that they would stay 24/7 for extra pay, and take care as best as they could of our 600 plus animals that we take care of. Unfortunately some of the very sick ones didn't make it due to lack of proper medical attention, but we're doing the best we can.
We had to start rationing food supplies and instead of two meals a day we could only manage one, as we had very meagre supplies due to the shortage of food available and also lack of funds. It was at that time that the Banks closed and we were unable to ask even our local sponsors for their sponsorship monies usually collected at the beginning of every month, as even they did not have enough cash to pay for their own food.
That's when I was obliged to send emails to some of our 'international friends' like the International Fund for Animal Welfare, who agreed to help us with an emergency grant, not only for the above abandoned animals but also to assist us in helping us with the expenses of the 600 plus animals already in the shelter when this crisis occurred.
A couple of days after President Mobarek stepped down I woke up one morning and was determined to get to the shelter and see what had happened to the poor animals there without any medical attention. I took one of our ESMA volunteers Eve, with me as she lives close to me and quite frankly I was afraid to go out alone!. When we arrived we were greeted by many of our loving dogs happy to see us after such a long period of not having 'human attention by the volunteers'. However in the clinic several cats were extremely sick and we heard the next day that many of them passed away that night.
In the meantime in Cairo Expatriates were, or had already made an exodus out of Cairo (actually most of them) and many had left their animals on the streets, hoping they 'would have a chance of survival'. In that 'crisis' period we collected 29 cats and dogs, that had obviously been 'home' pets, and we had no alternative of course than to take them to our shelter, despite the 'dire straights' we were in at the shelter at that time.
Below are some stories and pictures of some that made it and some that didn't.
Sawra the Abandoned dog:
She was picked up after the riots down town, she was very scared afraid of any sound or voice or person, it took our friend the lady who heard her crying voice at night more than 2 hours to be able to touch her and take her in her car.
She risked driving to the shelter with late at night and so shortly before the curfew time because she did not know what to do and she never handled dogs before so was a bit scared but could not watch her and how she looked and her crying voice and do nothing.
She is very quiet and by herself , we are gaining her trust day by day, she seems to be very keen on being owned by someone but his this look of no trust that she will not be abandoned again. She is called Sawra (revolution).
Horreya ( freedom):
Found in Zamalek, a place where many foreigners are residents. Our colleague Margo found her half dead near a tyre of a car, in very bad shape, while she was on her daily routine feeding of the cats in her area, she goes down twice daily and she is affirmative.
She has not seen her before but one of the garage boys there told her that this cat has been around for the past 3 days, she meowed a lot and seems to have lost her voice form meowing. Estimated to be 7-8 months old. She is still recovering from a case of very bad flu and skin problems.
The Maadi puppy estimated to be 4-5 months old, seems to be a mix of German shepherd and a collie, was too dehydrated when we found him, with very bad eye infection and too hungry, very friendly which gives us indication he is very well acquainted with humans , easy with other puppies and adult dogs too. He is so funny we called him Magoo.
Found abandoned by a woman who wanted to keep her but since she was missing some hair she got worried and locked the cat in the bathroom, she called us about it but we could not reach out for her immediately in the first week, then we picked her up, she is sad, very sad as if she does not why is this happening to her. estimated 3-4 years old. Very quiet and looking so badly for human touch.
Mokko & Azzo:
The two male German shepherds were found in Maadi area, estimated to be around 1 year old , were found walking together wearing both of them collars and when we got them found out they were sterilized too which is not normal for street dogs.
They also were very familiar with people and did not find a problem in dealing with them although one boy was a bit shy than the other. They are also used to the leash. We named them Moko & Azzo.
Female, around 6 months old, found near the old opera square, while driving to the vet with a critical case on the first day they allowed cars into mid town, there she was standing in the middle of the street on a pile of sand doing her thing.
She was there because she wanted the sand and she did not mind being in the middle, I saw a white thing from far and kept thinking this cannot be a cat but to my total amazement she was a cat and I pulled up my car in the middle of the street waving the other cars away as she seemed really not bothering about them.
I approached her slowly not to scare her to run away in front of one of the cars and quickly grabbed her from the neck and ran back to my car where I handed her to Mahmoud the cat care taker who was accompanying me to the vet. She is so cuddly and playful and into food too much since she was really hungry, quite opinionated too. Has beautiful blue eyes.
Tahrir: (named after the square)
was found in Lebanon square, he looked really odd on the pavement going around meowing as if calling on someone or looking for somewhere.
The lady who saw him thought he was lost from the building he was standing in front of it, went inside, rang few doors till a porter showed up and confirmed that this cat did not belong to anyone and has been on the street for the past 5 days doing the same thing from one building to another.
He is very homey, used to litter box, picky on his dry food type, easy going with other cats too, loves women and likes to flirt too, used to scratch boxes. Sterilized, estimated to be 3-4 years.
female, Turkish cat, from the slogan of our revolution we named her Selmiya (peaceful), and she is such a peaceful cat, so lovable, clearly used to be a house cat. Found on top of a car taking a sun bath on one of the empty streets of Zamalek, enjoying the quietness of Cairo streets during curfew.
She was happy someone offered her food and happy to be held and did not panic inside the car, asking around in Mohandessen where she was found no one around had a clue where she came from, she was a little dirty but that is normal for her white color in Cairo streets. Estimated 2-3 years old.
found in Maadi too, very close to Road 9, she was in a horrible case of malnutrition and flu, her eyes were closed and she was found with her companion another Siamese who was already dying by the time we got them, he only stayed with us two days, found by our driver Mohamed while trying hard to find his way to the market there in search for dry food before curfew hours. I did not see the boy as he died before I could go to the shelter and by the time I was able to go she was dying too and that was her last day there when I go her picture. We believe they were abandoned from a pet shop probably.
Near the Nile side of Maadi towards down town this little guy was trying to gallop towards somewhere, he was in such a dangerous place coming from nowhere and going nowhere and suddenly stopped tired as he was so tiny and small and needing to be nursed, this was on his way back to the shelter when Mohamed the driver picked him up, going up the road and down for some space maybe he can spot his siblings or mother but they weren't anywhere, he is nursed by our vet Dr. Ahmed and the boys at the shelter. He grew a bit as in the last photo of him in the pullover. The boys called him Samba.
The Dalmatian, male, estimated to be around 2-3 years old was found wearing a red collar by a woman who has a house near our place. He looked in good shape and weight and obviously not lost since a long time he arrived only 4 days after the start of unrest, found in Maadi area. We called him Solly.
For more information about the International Fund for Animal Welfare efforts to help animals in crisis around the world visit http://www.ifaw.org