On my travels, I’ve witnessed many various forms of abuse towards animals: monkeys, birds, goats, sheep, pigs, elephants…but the abuse that is commonly thread through all the countries I’ve explored is the daily abuse towards the local strays in town. Cats and dogs are found everywhere, but their numbers increase in developing countries where their is a lack of education.
If you’re planning a trip or traveling now, keep these easy tips in mind. You, alone, can make a real difference in an animal’s life just by taking simple these actions.
1. Call up your local Animal Welfare Group
There is usually an animal welfare group or non profit organization in most cities and major towns. From Bali to Alexandria, Virginia…Dahab to Cairo, look up your local area on the ol’ trusty Google and send them a message about volunteering or donating $5 or $10. To Americans, a few dollars may not seem like much, but in a developing country, it can save lives. These groups are in dire need of financial help, so anything can help.
In Dahab, Karin runs the Animal Welfare Dahab where they operate a TNR project (T-trap, N-neuter, R-return) program. Volunteers are a big help to the organization, especially during these large twice a year projects ,where40 to more than 100 cats and dogs are neutered. They also help with adoptions and travel procedures for those that fall in love with their furry companion. During my time in Dahab, I was able to help Karin capture a female dog to be neutered as well as photograph 6 stray dogs that are looking for their forever homes. I also was able to observe and assist Dr. Amira while she neutered my four cats that live in my apartment building! If you’re in the Dahab area, be sure to reach out to Karin here on Facebook. I first learned about them at the Dahab weekly market on Fridays.
There’s also Help Dahab Dogs, another wonderful nonprofit aimed to help only the stray and injured/abused dogs in the area. The focus of their work is also on neutering and adopting the local street dogs. There is also an animal welfare group in Luxor as well as this nonprofit Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals.
2. Visit your local vet to get a cat or dog neutered
Ask the locals for the nearest veterinarian! In Dahab, we worked with Dr. Amira Nabil, the wonderful local veterinarian in town. Dr. Amira neuters, vaccinates and treats any and all wounded and ill strays every week and helps with Animal Welfare of Dahab. While Alex and I were in Dahab, we took 4 of the local cats in our yard to get them spayed and neutered, and being a developing country, it was so affordable – only $5 a cat!
I am a big believer that one single person can make a big difference in helping the animals in our world. By neutering one or two cats, you are affecting the rest of the population and ensuring that the growth slows down and there is enough food for every critter. More food equals less competition and thus – less fights!
3. Put out a bowl of fresh water
Saying that Egypt is hot is an understatement – we are in the middle of the African desert! So if you have some fresh water or you’re living in an apartment or hotel, fill up a bowl of tap water and put it outside. Your furry friends outside will be very grateful.
4. Toss ’em your scraps!
It sounds like a no-brainer but really – toss them any scraps or pieces of chicken that you have. Unless you have a newborn litter that is starving and their mother is not around or their on the verge of death, I don’t recommend feeding them habitually. The puppies and kittens in Dahab become so reliant on local travelers and tourists feeding them that they don’t learn how to hunt and search for food on their own. Learning to search through trash and beg is a skill that stray animals need to learn in order for long-term survival, so if you have an older dog or cat that wants food, please give them food but don’t make it a daily habit or they won’t know how to live in the wild after you leave.
5. Voice Your Concerns and Complaints to the Locals
Last but most definitely not least, please make sure to voice your concerns, especially to the local kids and their parents if you’re visiting a developing country. I’ll never forget seeing a young boy pick up a giant rock, look both ways and throw it at a resting golden retriever while in Egypt. I witnessed so many kids manhandling, shoving, and beating the cats and dogs along the beach and in town, and it devastated me.
Where Does This Stem From?
Abusing animals stems form a lack of education, and by spreading this idea of compassion and gentleness with other creatures really goes a long way. Voicing your concerns and talking about it with locals goes a long way. Vacationers from Cairo visit Dahab and bring their own dogs along with them, and since Egyptians don’t believe in sterilization (it’s part of their culture), the population growth is increasingly rapidly. The growth rate has increased exponentially this year alone that many cats and dogs are starving from the lack of food and amount of competition.
By being silent, we are allowing this issue to spread.
You are every voiceless animal’s voice. Be their voice.
How have you helped the local stray animals while traveling? Do you have any recommendations for animal welfare groups volunteers?
Photo Gallery From Volunteering with Animal Welfare Dahab