A Facebook update from the Egyptian Society of Mercy to Animals (ESMA) reads, "To ALL Maadi residents: Poison is being thrown in the street, don't know by who, a friend of mine's dog got poisoned yesterday and died, watch out for your dogs." Some commenters on the page are horrified, while one sadly notes, "this is unfortunately a regular occurrence all over Egypt."
The political upheaval in Egypt has greatly affected Egypt's people, but their animal population has truly been decimated. Street cats and dogs were being gassed alongside rioters, fleeing expatriates left their animals behind in panic. Horse owners abandoned their horses that typically serviced busy tour destinations. Pet shops were closed for days with their pets inside.
Looking into Egypt's past, they have always been an animal-loving nation. Egyptians and felines in particular have had a longstanding history. The Ancient Egyptian goddess Bast, depicted by a female figure with either a lion or cat's head, was considered the protector of Lower Egypt and a powerful defender of the pharaoh and of Ra. Egyptian royals would dress their cats in valuable jewels and let them eat from their dishes at mealtime. Cats were widely respected in the streets as they help control the mouse, rat, poisonous snake and other vermin populations from contaminating food supplies. Cats were mummified alongside their human counterparts. Cats were so sacred that at one point the punishment for killing one was death.
Today, the Ancient Egyptian ritual of respect for felines, especially feral, has seemingly been forgotten and sadly they are not the only animals forgotten or mistreated in Egypt. Dogs, goats, donkeys and horses are also abandoned, abused, overworked, and even tortured across Egypt. The numbers are staggering. There are an estimated 800,000 stray animals in a country of 80 million. To complicate the issue, Egypt has no regulations on animal welfare. As recent as 2007 the Egyptian government would shoot and kill feral dogs in the street. That spawned the creation of the Egyptian Society of Mercy to Animals. ESMA was established by a team of hardworking Egyptians and expats to "fight this notion of population control and to protect and rescue the animals in immediate danger." Due to recent events in Egypt, however, the number of animals in "immediate danger" has skyrocketed and ESMA is in great need.
ESMA is the only organization in Egypt working around the clock to help these animals. ESMA works solely on donations, so any help is crucial to making a difference. EMSA has a Facebook page with daily updates about the crisis and shocking photos that are truly devastating. To make a donation to ESMA, click here. They have also provided a list of items needed at the shelter. Every little bit counts. The people have been heard in Egypt, now it's time the animals are.
For more information on how to help animals in need, visit AnimalFair.com