Trap-Neuter-Return: The Initiative Confronting Stray Animals' Overpopulation in Maadi
With each cat and dog neutered, we spare the lives of the many more generations of stray animals to come.
While going about your day, it would be strange if you did not see a cat or a dog at least once. Egypt has an increasing problem of stray animals; they exist everywhere on our streets, from the newborn kittens to the old limping dogs. These animals end up getting hurt or killed and live in constant danger on Cairo's harsh streets.
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is a Maadi-based business that has a mission to decrease the number of stray animals. It started as a small initiative by a group of Maadi residents, and now operates under Egyptian Vets for Animal Care (EVAC), the first animal welfare association specialised in Spay/Neuter awareness.
Last year alone, they sterelised and vaccinated 300 cats under their spray/neuter program. Since their launch in 2014, they have sprayed over 5,000 cats and 1,000 dogs. The animals are clipped or tagged by the veterinarians to indicate that they've been neutered and are safely vaccinated.
TNR is exactly what it sounds like – capturing a cat or a dog, spaying and neutering it, and then returning it to its habitat. TNR volunteers find this the best way to control the stray animal population. Noted, Egypt has a record of absurd, if not criminal, 'solutions' to the problem. On one occasion, a veterinary official called on authorities to shoot the stray animals. On another, an MP suggested Egypt should export stray dogs to countries that would eat them.
"The number of organisations with an animal-rights' cause is not enough to half the increasing population of stray animals," Dr. Mohamed Shehata, Chairman of EVAC, told CairoScene. The programs are flourishing; however, Dr. Shehata stated the problem needs to be backed up by official bodies with the power to make a drastic change.
TNR is expanding to other areas in Cairo, like Zamalek and Heliopolis. The TNR groups consist of volunteers who receive veterinary training from the professionals at EVAC. During the training, Dr. Shehata told us, the volunteers receive verbal and practical instructions on how to capture the cats and dogs, spay and neuter them, before setting them free again.
While there tends to be a lack of education at large on animal rights, we can still see an increase in the awareness of the cause through social media posts and groups. Services and nongovernmental organisations dedicated to animal rights are always trying to find solutions to animal misery.
People have resorted to terrible solutions to the stray-animal epidemic that exists in Egypt through methods like poisoning, hanging.
There are laws protecting the rights of animals in Egypt, imposing a fine and imprisonment on those who abuse animals. There still remains in Egypt a lack of understanding of animals, but institutions like EVAC and TNR are aiming to spread the education of animal rights. EVAC holds training sessions where they brief you on what you need to know to become a TNR volunteer.
Main image from Ivan Lo.