Concern escalates in the Maghreb after repeated stray dog ​​attacks

The public prosecutor’s office in Gabes, southeast of Tunisia, on Friday opened an investigation following the murder of a 16-year-old girl, who was attacked by dogs on her way to school.

The residents of this agricultural region had recently complained of a sharp increase in the number of stray dogs that also feed on livestock.

In Algeria, at the beginning of March, it was the child Salah El-Din, 12, who was “devoured by dogs” in Blida, near Algiers, according to his uncle, who said “only the bones of the lower part of his body.”

Stray dogs on a street in Tunis, December 29, 2021 Agence France-Presse / Fethi Belaid.

in this country, “The only method that municipal services use to control stray animals is capture and slaughter.”Veterinarian Dr. Abdelmoumen Boumaza told AFP. But they don’t act, he says “Only in an emergency, when there are cases of rabies.”

For its part, Tunisia asserts that it has taken measures: the Ministry of Agriculture has made the rabies vaccination service available free of charge and has set itself the goal of quickly vaccinating 70-80% of dogs in Tunis.

Frequent dropouts

There is an emergency: five people, bitten by stray dogs, died of rabies in the country in 2021, “At the level of Greater Tunis (2 million people, editor’s note) roving carnivores are 55% positive”According to the ministry.

Stray dogs at a shelter for the Animal Protection Association in Ariana, near Tunis, on February 9, 2022 Agence France-Presse / Fethi Belaid.

Why this spread? Noel Lakch, head of the Association for the Protection of Animals in Tunisia, told AFP that in recent years Tunisians have resorted to dogs instead of expensive alarm systems to protect their property.

But desertion is frequent, especially when females give birth to young. Thus, it is not uncommon for passers-by to come face to face with a pack of dogs in the capital.

PAT . would like “A law obligating dog owners to mark their dogs so that they cannot be thrown into the street with impunity.” And that every municipality has a stray dog ​​management center.

There are six for each Tunisia: “We won a battle, but we did not win the war.”notes Mrs. Lakesh, believing that associations are doing this “state work”.

Municipal workers transport a stray dog ​​caught in a net on December 29, 2021 in Tunis. Agence France-Presse / Fethi Belaid.

And many city halls “Continue slaughter, including those who have a vaccination and sterilization center”She regrets.

In recent months, bloody crackdowns, particularly on the tourist island of Djerba, have led to protests by animal rights activists on social networks.

long torment

“After being shot, dogs can agonize for hours. We leave them unconcerned about whether they are dead or injured”Mrs. Lakesh protests.

Stray dogs at the Bouhannache animal shelter, February 9, 2022 in Ariana, near Tunis Agence France-Presse / Fethi Belaid.

At the Bouhnach shelter in Ariana, near Tunis, dozens of dogs have been housed by PAT, who is trying to find a home for them.

Built five years ago thanks to private donations, the shelter covers an area of ​​2,600 square metres.

The center has already received nearly 500 residents. Sometimes, due to the lack of a local adoptive family, the PAT sends the dogs abroad Trip sponsorsduring transportation.

The veterinarian at the Center for Vaccination and Sterilization in Tunis, Dr. Mahmoud Al-Tiri, vaccinated more than 2,500 heads in two years, mostly dogs, and performed many sterilizations.

“Without mass sterilization, the streets will be overrun with stray dogs”Dr. warns. Mahmoud.

Dr. Mahmoud El-Tiri, a veterinarian at the Sterilization and Vaccination Center of Tunis, performs an operation on a dog to be sterilized, on December 29, 2021 in Tunis Agence France-Presse / Fethi Belaid.

Two days a week, a team from the center roams the streets of the capital looking for stray dogs to be vaccinated and sterilized.

Also in Morocco, the country signed an agreement in 2019 with partners To sterilize, immunize and identify stray dogs.

Despite this, many Municipalities regulate the slaughter of dogs in the streets or by pound in appalling conditions.Zainab Taqani, head of the Arham Association (“have mercy”) told AFP indignantly.

In Libya, unlike its neighbors, the phenomenon of stray dogs “under control”According to Marwan Al-Buri, a veterinarian in Tripoli, he sees few of them loitering in the streets.

Perhaps because with the proliferation of weapons, some do not hesitate to shoot them.

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