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Egypt’s animals suffer horrible fate during revolution

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14 February 2011

Egypt’s animals suffer horrible fate during revolution
By Joseph Mayton

The scene in Nazlet el-Saman some 20 miles north of the capital Cairo were gruesome, horrifying and simply wrong. Horses, still tethered to trees, were left for dead by their owners, whose neglect was in favor of joining street protests across the country. The UK’s Daily Telegraph published the images of the area, with one horse sprawled on the ground dead, still tied to the tree. The other two horses next to it were to follow soon, their ribs protruding out of their skin. The deaths could easily have been avoided.

When the photographer panned back, dozens of horses were on the ground, having starved to death because no person decided to feed them, give them water or simply let them go. It is only part of the image now coming out of Egypt’s revolution and the poor treatment of animals during the past three weeks. Without food and water these horses and massive numbers of other animals across the country, met a horrifyingly painful death. One animal rights group, the Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals (ESMA) at least made an effort, detailing to Bikya Masr in a number of emails the struggle they were going through in order to protect the millions of animals across the country. Nobody else seemed to care. “It is very frustrating for me to hear that horses in their scores, or even hundreds are dead, or dying of starvation,” said ESMA founding member Susie Nasser.

Across Egypt, animals were literally thrown to the trash. ESMA documented cats and dogs, their carcasses, being tossed into trash containers after they were stampeded to death by protesters and police. Others simply dropped their animals off at the organization’s now over-populated shelter. Nasser said they are doing their best in order to maintain the over 600 animals they are now caring for.

When violence turned against foreigners during the second week of demonstrations there was a mass exodus of expatriates from Cairo, many of whom had companion animals in their homes. But airlines refused to take the animals with them. Reports from the streets say a large number of cats and dogs were simply thrown on the street, into the chaos and ultimately to their death.

“How can an animal that has lived with people inside a home take care of itself,” said one foreigner, who criticized the animal abuse being carried out across Egypt. “Companion animals deserve the same treatment as one would a child. They deserve and to do otherwise would be wrong.”

Making matters worse still, there is no way to completely document the destruction of animal populations in the country, as many animal welfare organizations’ employees stayed at home or fled the scenes. The result was the above killing of innocent horses.

Nasser says the situation is in “dire straits,” even as protests have ended. There are millions of stray cats and animals that need assistance, but there is little action being taken to mobilize animal welfare groups to work under the same umbrella.

In the end, many human rights activists who spent 18 days on the streets have repeatedly called animal rights “ridiculous” in “light of the current human populations’ calls for a better country,” but animal activists worldwide have been quick to point out that the earliest animal rights activists were also the most staunch in their support for human rights.

“We have long seen that the two are inextricably linked, so for these people, who mean well, to not care about the animals that live in their midst, it will be hard for them to overcome long held beliefs of class and all human rights,” said Tarek Yussif, an Egyptian activist living in London. “We have come to far to return to our prejudices, and this includes animals. I know people will criticize this, but it is the reality. Look at societies that care about all creatures, they are more tolerance and more understanding.”

It means little to the horses who lost their lives as a result of neglect; the millions of stray cats and those companion animals abandoned by their owners.

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