Egyptian Society of Animal Friends: Report on the AKI Grant
The grant from AKI was awarded to ESAF in memory of Ahmed el-Sherbiny, who, with his British-born wife Jackie, led the Egyptian Society of Animal Friends, the Egyptian Federation for Animal Welfare, and the Middle East Network for Animal Welfare. Ahmed passed away on March 7, 2019 (see his memorial on AKI's Memory Wall).
The Sheikh Zayed compound is a small residential neighborhood in Cairo, Egypt. In November 2018, on behalf of ESAF, Ahmed Sherbiny drafted a proposal to the trustees of the neighborhood to tackle the problem of large packs of street dogs. At that time, it was estimated that there were about 750 street dogs living in the area.
The Sheikh Zayed Board agreed not to shoot or poison the dogs as long as Sherbiny and ESAF would conduct a widescale rabies vaccination and sterilization program.
After reaching this understanding with the Board, in December 2018, ESAF embarked on a large-scale TNR (trap, neuter, release) program. By July 2019, they had completed nearly 550 TNRs – approximately 75 dogs per month. However, at that point, donations had dried up and the group had not been able to complete the project.
Compounding the issues they faced, ESAF’s shelter was quite a distance from the Sheikh Zayed neighborhood and the roads were in a primitive state which meant their one vehicle (picture below) was often in need of mechanical repairs in addition to the usual fuel costs.
Using the grant from AKI, ESAF was able to resume their TNR efforts. With three different vets working, they were able to catch up to five dogs each time and to do this three times a week (see 3 pictures below). By December, 2019, with AKI funds, they had managed to operate on over 100 dogs as well as vaccinating and sterilizing some feral cats (4th picture below).
The vets (pictured below) only operated on an animal after an initial examination to ensure it was healthy enough to undergo the procedure. Then, the animal would remain in ESAF’s shelter for a minimum of four days receiving food, antibiotics and wound care. When they had fully recovered, they were returned to the same place where they were caught. The catchers reported that there was always a joyful reunion between the newly released dogs and their old canine and human pals! Sometimes previously-treated dogs would approach the catchers with wagging tails.
Some local people had been taking care of the stray dogs providing them with food and water and sometimes these caring residents came to the shelter to check on the animals.
Despite the excellent work they were doing to reduce the dog overpopulation and eliminate the risk of people becoming infected with rabies, there were some local residents who objected to having the dogs returned to the area after they had been sterilized. Other residents, however, saw the benefits of this type of program and asked ESAF to expand their efforts to include a local school as the parents were worried about the stray dogs biting the school children. ESAF has also received requests from other neighborhood organizations, such as New Cairo, to undertake TNR.
This first TNR effort at Sheikh Zayed compound was a critical step in demonstrating that TNR can work in Cairo and that ESAF can be a reliable partner in that effort. ESAF not only offered a humane solution to the dog overpopulation problem in Sheikh Zayed, but thanks to the AKI grant, they were able to complete the 1st stage of the TNR program. ESAF's ability to see this project through helped build a relationship with many of the local residents who now trust the group to deal with issues related to the street dogs and to continue to manage the dog population in and around the compound, creating a healthier environment for dogs and humans.