Arwa Gouda, Mohanad Kojak, Tara Emad, Sherine Hamdy, Sherif El-Hawary, and Tamer Hashem ask Egyptians to open their homes and hearts to stray animals in @MO4Network's #MO4Good's latest animal welfare campaign. And we second that. #AdoptDontShop.
From dodging reckless drivers to fleeing attacks from their number one enemy, humans, stray cats and dogs frantically roam Egypt's streets in a constant battle for survival, one which, more often than not, ends with them losing. It is, however, unfair to claim that all Egyptians mistreat or abuse animals. But we can definitely say, with a degree of certainty, that most of us simply blur them out of our daily lives, overlook their existence, and avoid acknowledging their desperate gestures. The biggest act of generosity we can get ourselves to perform once every blue moon is share a meal with them, which is indeed a kind act. But is it enough to ease their pain and end their struggle? We definitely don't think so.
Inspired by the Renaissance era's oil paintings, #MO4Good's 'Noble Creatures' photo shoot is made to support the #AdoptDontShop movement by portraying the true essence of stray dogs and cats; beautiful and regal, which is why they have gathered Egypt's top fashion, media, and music icons to advocate for the rights of balady cats and dogs to shelter and humane treatment and propel us all to take matters into our own hands and take action.
Cairokee's Tamer Hashem
Have you ever shared a video or contributed to an online discussion about animal abuse in Egypt? You probably did. But when did you actually extend an invitation to an animal to share with it your roof and love? Yes, neither have we. You know why? Because we like them cute; with blue eyes and fluffy hair. Sometimes we like them tall and strong, other times, we like them pocket-sized and feisty. Pet ownership is almost a social statement in Egypt, or at least that's how it starts. At first, you want a dog/cat that looks like [insert description here], then you fall in love with their personalities. But no one wants a balady dog, that's not cute, and your friends will probably be weirded out if they catch you walking your balady buddy or petting them, right? Sadly it is. "There're a lot of negative connotations associated with balady dogs and cats in Egypt, which is a sad reality. Balady dogs and cats are actually very smart and kind, and we should start treating them as such," says famed actress Amina Khalil, adding that it takes only one person to change an animal's life forever. "There's much more awareness now because of social media. Everyone can see on their feeds how our stray animals are being mistreated. Which hasn't always been the case," adds starlet Tara Emad.
TV Host Sherine Hamdy
No one is trying to restrict your right to buy bred dogs and cats with traits and features you like, but you need to be wary of directly and financially contributing to the pet breeding industry, one that relies on your money to keep inbreeding animals to produce the cutest and fluffiest pets. They are often bred under horrendous conditions at ungodly rates, which causes many health issues for these animals. In humans, as in the animal kingdom, consanguinity, inbreeding, and endogamy result in offspring that is at a very high risk of developing genetic disorders. Balady dogs and cats that result from exogamous unions are healthier and smarter than inbred ones, just like children of diverse genetic backgrounds. "We should put an end to judging the animals for their perceived unfavourable looks or behaviour. If we try to connect with those balady animals, they will show us nothing but love and kindness," notes TV star Arwa Gouda.
Actress Tara Emad
The overpopulation of stray animals in Egyptian cities is indeed a problem, one which sometimes gets a quick inhumane fix by mass poisoning them. Such incidents have almost become regular news headlines in Egypt, if they make it to the news at all, that is. Next time you share a headline strongly condemning such violent acts, remember that the most effective solution lies within your hands, which is taking one of those animals off the streets and contributing to solving the problem of their overpopulation, an issue that, to many, warrants cruelty towards them. "I've had several balady cats over the past few years. I mostly rescue them from the streets if they're in a bad shape. I now have a balady cat and a persian cat, and they're best buddies," says young designer Mohanad Kojak, who went all out for MO4Good's #AdoptDontShop campaign by offering Kojak Studio designed outfits for all the participating public figures.
Actress Arwa Gouda
One of those public figures is Cairokee guitarist Sherif Hawary who has decided a long time ago to take definitive action by taking two balady dogs into his family. "I've purchased animals, and I've adopted animals. Having the power to save a life is much more rewarding on every level for me. My two balady dogs deeply care about me and my family, and would protect us with their lives. One of the balady dogs I adopted is so smart that he literally understands when I give him something to deliver to my wife in the other room," Hawary says. Similarly, TV presenter Sherine Hamdy voiced her concern for the fate of those stray animals, and calls upon Egyptians to stop turning a blind eye to their suffering, "The media industry can help, which is what you guys are doing now. Anyone who thinks they can lend a helping hand to those stray animals, should do so immediately. That's the only way we could actually reach a true solution."
Cairokee's Sherif El Hawary
For the solution to be sustainable, however, we need better education and a government that shows concern for the welfare of its subjects, humans or otherwise. But until then, every soul taken off the streets and given shelter and food is one more step towards resolution, which is why we need to start now. Next time you consider purchasing an inbred cat or dog, keep in mind that there are thousands other animals on the streets for whom you could be the only chance at survival. Don't take that away from them, #AdoptDontShop.
Fashion Designer Mohanad Kojak
Adopt now or donate by getting in touch with any of the following animal shelters and animal-adoption centres in Egypt via Facebook:
Rescuing and Adopting Animals in Egypt
Dogs and Cats Adoption in Egypt
Photo Shoot by @MO4Network's #MO4Productions
Dog Training and Management: Jacket Rust
Cinematography: Munchy and Naby A.
Art Direction: Munky El Bakry
Photography: Malak El Sawi
Costumes: Kojak Studio
Hair: Toi Salon