In addition to sterilizing and vaccinating stray dogs, SFT’s educational outreach program encourages compassion for local animal populations.
Rabat – The recent proposal by Morocco’s Ministry of Interior to sterilize rather than shoot stray dogs did not come from nowhere. Moroccan associations have long been pursuing small-scale sterilization and vaccination campaigns, or TNR.
From Agadir’s Le coeur sur la patte to Rabat’s La Tribu des Quat’pattes and Azemmour’s ERHAM, sterilizing Morocco’s strays is not a novel concept. To an outsider, the recently announced reform seems like a no-brainer.
But the road to a country-wide sterilization campaign has been far from easy. Many NGOs in Morocco have faced resistance from local communities and regional authorities, who view sterilization as a way to uphold the stray population rather than reduce it.
Although pet dogs are becoming more common in Morocco, many Moroccans see strays as a threat to humans.
Reports of vicious attacks, car accidents caused by roaming packs, and deadly rabies infections have done their part to sour the perception of stray dogs in Morocco. Certainly, the late-night barking doesn’t help, either.
While some dogs in Morocco may pose a threat to humans, killing them en masse is not the way to eliminate this threat. Every dog that is shot or poisoned will be quickly replaced by another so long as strays are able to reproduce.
The clear solution is to sterilize strays, vaccinate them against rabies, and educate Morocco’s population on the importance of animal welfare.
SFT Tangier: A force to be reckoned with
Salima “Sally” Kadaoui, founder of SFT Animal Sanctuary in Tangier, launched Project Hayat in 2017 in pursuit of a childhood dream: To end animal suffering in Morocco.
Project Hayat catches stray dogs in Tangier and neuters, treats, and vaccinates them. The dogs then return to their territories brandishing a yellow tag on one ear, which designates them as rabies-free. The yellow tag also serves to protect the dogs from culling.
Project Hayat teaches Moroccans strategies in responding to potentially dangerous animals while calming locals’ fear of the dogs. SFT’s educational outreach program ultimately aims to encourage compassion for local animal populations, as aggression in dogs is often a response to hostile human behavior.
Project Hayat has educated more than 25,000 students—from primary school to university—about animal welfare.
SFT also provides emergency veterinary services and regularly checks on its tagged dogs to see if they have any medical needs.
Many of the strays have guardians that look after them, and SFT provides these guardians with dry food for the dogs.
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This lovely man is so happy to have his dog back. Thank you Mariam and Maite for all the work you do for our precious dogs in Tangier. Between all of us we are without a doubt making this part of the world a better place for all, humans and animals. We are determined to make Tangier the first city rabies free in Africa. We will reach our goal with your financial support and our determination. Thank you to all of you who help support us and help us. www.sftmorocco.org
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Isn’t it great our Project Hayat helps all? We protect our precious strays, we help their amazing guardians, we teach love, care and compassion towards all living beings. We simply want to make Tangier an example to follow and protect all. #endrabiesnow #GARC #SFT #dogs #eradicaterabiesnotstraydogs?? #projecthayat #morocco #rabies www.sftmorocco.org
The sanctuary is home to over 500 animals, including donkeys, pigs, monkeys, and birds. The organization has rehabilitated a number of disabled dogs, who can now roam happily with specially designed wheelchairs.
SFT accepts volunteers year-round. The association also has fostering and adoption programs in Morocco and helps transfer dogs to new homes in Europe, the US, and Canada.
SFT is one of many Moroccan animal welfare associations that have catalyzed the government’s move towards sterilization. After years of local, regional, and international pressure, the Moroccan government can finally leave behind its grim history of unethical and ineffective population control.
When the new reforms are enacted, animal rights activists like Sally will be able to rest easier at night knowing that the days of culling are over and that Morocco’s street dogs will be safe from a cruel, painful death.
You can help fund SFT Animal Sanctuary’s veterinary services, food provisions, rehabilitation efforts, and educational outreach programs here.
While you’re at it, check out some of these other organizations that are doing amazing work in Morocco: