Parliament Speaker Hanafi Gibali referred a draft law aimed at banning citizens from owning dogs and dangerous animals without a licence to the Agriculture and Animal Wealth Committee for study, reports Gamal Essam El-Din.
The 28 June bill, drafted by the chair of parliament’s Local Administration Committee Ahmed Al-Sigini, states that citizens cannot have dogs without a licence from the Veterinary Medicine Directorate.
The draft requires veterinary medicine directorates to keep electronic and paper registration files for licensed dogs, containing information including the name of the dog owner, his or her place of residence, and a detailed description of the licensed dog, adding that every dog should have a serial number displayed on a tag around its neck.
In addition, dogs will be required to wear muzzles and be restrained by a leash while in public.
Al-Sigini said parliament’s Local Administration Committee has received many complaints from the public about dogs attacking them and their children. “Everywhere on the streets of Cairo and other major cities you will find stray dogs running around residential buildings, scavenging for food, and trying to bite people, particularly children,” Al-Sigini said, adding that “these dogs, unsanitary and dirty, are dangerous, and so the bill is to bring this phenomenon under control.”
Al-Sigini said the ownership of dogs also has to be regulated. “The media has repeatedly reported about privately-owned dogs attacking people and causing them serious injuries, and so the ownership of these kinds of dogs and other dangerous animals must be regulated,” Al-Sigini said.
He said his proposed bill on the ownership and handling of dangerous animals and dogs is consistent with international agreements signed by Egypt and regulations passed by the World Health Organisation (WHO). He also indicated that his draft law was in line with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, signed in Washington in 1973.
According to the Agriculture Ministry, there were 400,000 cases of dog bites in 2017, up from 300,000 in 2014. It also said 231 people died over the past four years from wounds they received, mainly as a result of rabies.
Al-Sigini said he agreed that stray dogs spread rabies, one of the deadliest diseases in the world. He also believed that the number of dog bites has largely increased over the last four years due to the big increase in the number of stray and pet dogs on Egyptian streets.
Al-Sigini said his bill aims to safeguard citizens from the deadly attacks of dogs which he said are everywhere on Egypt’s streets. He said he considered street dogs and pet dogs a “time bomb that threatens our children”, adding that the cabinet had received many complaints from citizens urging the government and local councils to take action against stray dogs and regulate the possession of pet dogs.
Al-Sigini’s draft law mandates that current owners obtain a license within six months of the law’s passage, and which will cost between LE1,000 to LE15,000. It also states that the minimum age for ownership will be 16. “Owning a dog without a licence will make the person subject to a prison sentence ranging from three months to one year, and a fine ranging from LE50,000 to LE100,000,” the draft law states.
Article 3 of the proposed bill defines dangerous animals as those which could cause serious harm or damage a human body or health.
Animal owners own, keep, shelter, breed, or have guard animals on a permanent or temporary basis.
The article states that the word “handling” will include all operations related to the selling, importing, exporting, exchanging, borrowing, displaying or transporting dangerous animals and dogs.
The article states that owners of dangerous animals will be banned from walking them in public places. “They will be required to take all the necessary precautions that their animals be vaccinated against diseases specified by the concerned minister (the minister of agriculture),” the article said. Owners will also be required to provide healthy food for their animals and in adequate quantities.
The article states that scientific research centres and institutions, animal parks, and circuses will also be required to obtain a licence before owning dangerous animals.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 8 July, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly