Local and international animal welfare activists are rejoicing at the announcement that will protect Morocco’s strays from bullets and poison.
Rabat – The Ministry of the Interior has signed an agreement with the agriculture and health sectors, along with the National Veterinarians Authority, to reduce the number of stray dogs in Morocco through sterilization rather than bullets.
The new approach will sterilize and vaccinate stray dogs in Moroccco and return them to their territories. This initiative mirrors those taken by various NGOs throughout the country.
Experts have long proposed this method, known by its abbreviation TNR, as an ethical way to gradually reduce the population of stray dogs.
Vaccinating stray dogs in Morocco will effectively decrease the transmission of rabies to humans and eventually eliminate the need for costly preventative treatment, which can range from MAD 600 to MAD 800 ($60 to $80) per person.
Population control: Morocco’s bad reputation
Morocco has come under fire in recent years for its method to control the population of stray dogs.
In cities across Morocco, local authorities have used live ammunition and poisoned food to kill stray dogs. Both methods, while inhumane in their own right, also pose a threat to humans and other animals, including household pets.
Moroccan authorities have also allegedly killed dogs that had been sterilized, vaccinated, and tagged by local NGOs.
La Tribu des Quat’pattes, a Rabat-based animal shelter, reported that authorities shot several of their tagged dogs in April 2019.
Local initiatives become national reforms
Some provincial governors in Morocco have signed agreements with local associations to stop the culling of stray dogs in their respective cities. Tangier is one such example.
The mayor of Tangier has collaborated with Salima Kadaoui, the founder of SFT Animal Sanctuary, to sterilize and vaccinate the city’s stray dogs.
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Well, not only we had a meeting with the Mayor of Tangier but we also went to the wilaya. The wilaya is the equivalent of the local government. We had the honor to have a meeting with the general secretary. We heard the words we always have been waiting for!!! Yes we did!!! The best thing ever!! The words were: “ We are going to stop the culling of strays!!” OMG I am so so so happy… We are all all so happy. Thank you for all the wonderful humans in the world supporting our cause. My childhood dream is going to come true!!! Humans and animals living in harmony… YES Now let’s turn words into actions. There is still a long way to go. We need your support more than ever! www.sftmorocco.org
Salima “Sally” Kadaoui launched Project Hayat in 2017. The initiative aims to catch stray dogs in Morocco, sterilize and vaccinate them, and then return them to their territory. The treated dogs have a yellow tag on their ear which indicates that they are rabies-free.
“We’re making huge progress, the community is accepting the dogs, it’s amazing,” she told Morocco World News last week outside of the MEDays venue in Tangier.
Local officials had asked her to remove a pack of tagged dogs from the surrounding area before the event began. However, the request had the opposite effect as it allowed new dogs to move into the area. Regardless, Sally said that she was “very, very grateful” for the communication.
In other cities lacking such cooperation between associations and the local government, authorities may have simply killed the dogs to “clean up” the area before a major event like MEDays.
In April 2018, Agadir authorities slaughtered more than 30 dogs ahead of the FIFA commission’s visit to the city. Local residents claimed that the dogs had been treated and tagged by a local association, but were killed nonetheless.
With the new initiative launched by the Ministry of the Interior, tagged and untagged dogs alike will be saved from bullets and poison. By sterilizing and vaccinating stray dogs instead of killing them, Morocco will finally be able to efficiently reduce the population and eliminate the threat of rabies.
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