Animal Adoption: The 'Balady' Stigma

A question that a lot of pet owners ask without even noticing: is it a pure breed or just a balady dog/cat? Stray animals are all around Egyptian streets, and people have been facing this phenomenon for so long that they can't guess when it started. Why are balady animals only characterized as stray animals?

Almost a month ago, MO4 Network launched a campaign called #AdoptDontShop, presenting six celebrities, such as Arwa Gouda, Sherif El Hawary and Amina Khalil, who talked about animal rights, and how people characterize balady dogs and cats as animals that can only belong to the street, and not to a home. These celebrities encouraged people to adopt and rescue stray animals, hoping to stop the greediness of people making money out of breeding animals. The campaign was a sobering reminder for people to have mercy towards street animals and see them in a new light.

One of the many organizations that tackle the stray animal problem is HOPE Organization , which offers rescued dogs medical treatment and food till they find a caring, loving home. The vet working at HOPE, Dr. Ahmad El Ghareeb, talked about how the organization is not like most of the shelters; as they only rescue urgent cases that need immediate medical attention.

He explained that stray animals live horrendous, terrifying events that they barely survive the streets; he mentioned that they’ve received dogs that were abused, shot, poisoned and left starving nearly to death. El Ghareeb discussed how part of the treatment process is to recreate the relation between those dogs and humans, as these dogs lose trust in any other creature after the traumatic events they go through.

El Ghareeb mentioned how he noticed Egyptians’ preferences when they come to the organization to adopt.

"Egyptians don't have the culture of adopting balady dogs; they only want pure breeds, Even when people come to adopt, they would choose an injured husky over a healthy balady one,” he said.

Zahraa El Alfy rescued her balady cat from the streets when he was just a kitten, after his sister had fallen from the seventh floor. While Alfy doesn’t know what could have happened to him had she not intervened, she knows for sure that her humane act changed both their lives.

El Ghareeb made note of the fact that Balady dogs are the same as pure breeds; that they are smart, strong and can even be used as guarding dogs if needed. He talked about how they can be easily trained, and mentioned that the dogs rescued by HOPE are able to lead happy, healthy lives even after their tragic experiences.

Even some owners of pure breeds agree that adoption can be very rewarding. Ahmad Osama ensures that if his Persian cat was a balady one, it wouldn't have changed the situation and he would have loved her just the same. In fact, he mentioned that if he didn't have a cat, he would have adopted a stray one for sure. He noted that preparing stray animals for a life at home isn’t as hard as people think; “all they need is a visit to the vet, a few treatments and a good bath.”

"An adopted animal can change your life forever, he will be forever thankful for you. Every day you will have living proof of your humanity and mercy. Animals add this magical touch to our lives," he added.

Another reason that urges animal lovers to adopt is to stop giving business to animal breeders. El Alfy commented that she is against the merchandizing of animals and that people shouldn't buy or sell animals like commodities.

“The world doesn't need more pure breeds to breed. There are thousands of dogs and cats in the street and they don't have any shelter,” she said.

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