Stray dogs seen in a street in Egypt (Photo: Al-Ahram)
A leading Egyptian MP has suggested that Egypt export stray dogs for meat consumption to countries like South Korea as a solution to the problem of overpopulation of stray dogs in the country.
The deputy of the human rights committee in parliament, Margaret Azer, told Ahram Online on Tuesday in a phone call that her suggestion is an alternative to “shooting dogs dead or castrating them.”
“We could collect the stray dogs and place them in a farm where they would be put on a special diet for proper nutrition and then slaughtered and exported,” Azer said.
Azer first made the suggestion in statements to the privately owned newspaper Youm 7 in response to a question on how to deal with the problem of stray dogs.
Azer said the idea of exporting the animals for consumption was made after “discussion with a few South Koreans.”
“This would be an investment for Egypt,” the MP said, adding that she has not yet decided if she will introduce a bill in parliament on the matter.
Azer’s statements have sparked a wave of criticism among animal rights advocates and rescuers in Egypt.
In statements to Ahram Online, Mona Khalil, head of the Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals (ESMA), slammed the MP’s statements, deeming them “shameful coming from a member of parliament who should be paving the way for a better and more humane Egypt.”
“In our old civilisation, such animals were believed to be sacred,” Khalil said angrily.
Khalil added that she has “tried to find any reason or rationale behind Azer’s suggestion,” stressing that she still cannot believe that such a statement was made.
Responding to Azer’s remarks that her suggestion was a more merciful alternative to shooting dogs, Khalil said the latter “was not even an option, and neither is sending them to butchers,” adding that countries where dog consumption is allowed are condemned worldwide.
“Can we not find a solution that is more scientific? Can we not find something more humane?” she said.
Khalil said that there are “better ways to get foreign currency flowing into the country,” mockingly suggesting that Egyptian MPs start discussing exporting narcotics or the organs of street children.
Stray dogs and cats are a common sight in Egypt, and many of the animals are often hit by cars or subjected to various forms of abuse by locals.
The state has been attempting to find a solution in recent years, often resorting to killing the animals.
In 2017, a Red Sea governor offered a reward of EGP 100 (around $5.5) for capturing five stray dogs in the governorate and delivering them to the veterinary authority.
The heads of local municipalities often post pictures of campaigns by assigned workers to kill stray dogs; often by mass poisoning. This has been decried by animal rights advocates in the country, who ask for alternatives that are more humane.
While there is no official data about stray dogs in the country, a study published on the privately owned Al-Watan newspaper said on Tuesday that the country is home to 22 million stray dogs nationwide, according to a study by Hamdy Arafa, a professor in local development and a consultancy expert on slums.