The online newspaper, Middle East Eye, reports that the authorities in Egypt have obtained licences to export 2,400 cats and 1,700 dogs to an unknown destination, for an unknown purpose at that destination.
There is, though, one certainty and that is the authorities are concerned about the number of stray dogs and cats on their streets. They are looking for solutions and one member of Parliament, Margaret Azer, has provoked controversy by suggesting that stray dogs and cats should be rounded up, taken to the desert and from there exported out of the country. She suggested that they go to South Korea.
Animal advocates take this to mean that the animals are going to be sent to a country where they will be brutally killed and then eaten in restaurants. On the basis that South Korea has encouraged the exportation of his animals, it implies that they are running out of Street cats and dogs to kill for their restaurants.
We are told that it is the first time that Egypt has exported cats and dogs. They are going to be mainly taken from the streets but they will be vaccinated and given medical certificates to confirm that they are free of disease before exportation. The agriculture ministry has not being transparent as to the destination. Neither is it being transparent on the specific reasons for their exportation.
The announcement comes at a time when there has been a dialogue in the country about how to deal with stray animals. It appears that the short-term, quick fix is the most popular solution i.e. kill them. If it is true that the animals are being shipped to S. Korea it’s as good as killing them in Egypt but having the dirty work done out of the country. Perhaps the authorities are fearful of international criticism.
How will they be transported? This is about animal welfare.
In a sinister twist, Azer said that a number of South Koreans have criticised Egypt for failing to export its stray dogs but instead let them harm Egyptians. The MP believes that the export of the animals would provide some revenue for the economy and eradicate the disease-ridden animals from the streets were they have become a burden on the Egyptian citizen.
An Egyptian satirist, Yusef Hussein, said that there are many human rights violations in Egypt which makes the prospect of any animal rights being difficult to achieve.
“The sheer number of human rights violations in Egypt make [any discussion of animal rights] seem like a luxury, but respecting animal life is not different from respecting human rights.”
Mona Khalil, the head of the Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals condemned the MP’s proposal saying that it is contrary to animal rights and also to Islamic teachings.
The world knows that there are many effective ways of controlling the number of unwanted cats and dogs in a country. The answers are to be found in educating cat and dog owners, promoting or enforcing spaying and neutering, operating TNR programs and providing discount spaying and neutering clinics as a starting point.
The core of the problem is with the attitude of cat and dog owners and of the population as a whole with respect to companion animal ownership. With it comes responsibilities and if there are 22 million stray cats and dogs on the streets in Egypt it appears that those responsibilities are not being fully discharged.
P.S. Ironically some Egyptian street cats are the genuine Egyptian Mau cats prized in the West.