It’s happened to most of us –  we go to our cars, only to find a cat wrapped around a tyre and not know what to do about it. Sometimes we find dogs just casually lounging on the roof of our cars. One thing is not in any doubt: Egypt has an incredibly prevalent stray animal problem.

Conscientious Maadi residents and animal advocates recently launched TNR Maadi (Trap, Neuter, Return) – an initiative aimed at humanely decreasing the stray cat & dog population. Essentially, volunteers capture strays, take them to vets participating in the initiative who sterilise (neuter/spay) them, and the animals are then released where they were caught. It’s an innovative and sensitive solution to the problem plaguing the upscale suburb, particularly considering that the only other alternative is poison.

Founded in February by Aya Abdelsalam and Rasha Hassanein, the initiative was the answer to the animal cruelty so frequently observed by Maadi residents – they have since been joined by various others. To date, they have successfully TNR’d 532 cats and 19 dogs.

Let’s face it – these animals aren’t shy. They will reproduce with the single-mindedness of horny teenagers if left to their own devices, which will only elevate the stray population.

Anybody with a conscience will tell you that poison is certainly not the answer. Moving away from the ethical considerations of poisoning defenceless animals, poison poses a much more serious threat. How would you feel if your toddler was playing in one of Maadi’s parks and unknowingly picked up a piece of chicken laced with rat poison? How would you feel if, while out on your daily walk, your dog begins convulsing and promptly dies? Definitely not the best solution, although it seems to have been adopted by the City Council (El 7ay), bawabs, store-owners, and even some residents.

Beyond spaying/neutering strays, the initiative also vaccinates animals before release – thereby tackling the very real issue of rabies. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has publicly voiced its support for TNR Maadi and supports the initiative’s efforts to reduce the stray population.  

Similar initiatives have had success in other countries – most notably in India, where the success of the initiative can be credited to the overwhelming support of their government. This is most certainly not the case in Egypt, where the worst perpetrators of animal abuse and neglect are often government officials.

The worthwhile initiative is currently looking for both volunteers and donations.

For more information, check out their website or their Facebook group