Pictures of dogs lying dead in puddles of blood from gunshot wounds spread through Egypt via Facebook Monday after armed patrols hunted down the stray animals over the weekend in Alexandria, a large northern port city. It didn’t take long before hashtags condemning the killings were trending on Twitter as animal rights advocates and citizens alike expressed outrage.
The shootings, carried out across upscale neighborhoods of the city, were part of a government-sanctioned campaign to deal with Egypt’s stray animals, according to Daily News Egypt. The policy was scrapped Sunday amid controversy, but on social media, Egyptians continued to lambaste Alexandria’s new governor, referring to him as a “murderer.”
— Daily News Egypt (@DailyNewsEgypt) December 29, 2015
A graphic video posted by the Cairo Animal Rescue Team shows two dogs lying dead on a sidewalk next to each other as a visibly shocked crowd gathers around. “Remember that you are responsible about every single soul in this land,” the animal rights and rescue group wrote. “STOP YOUR GOVERNMENT FROM KILLING GOD'S CREATURES, STOP KILLING THISE INNOCENT SOULS.”
When confronted by residents in neighborhoods where the dogs were targeted, employees reportedly claimed that the dogs were ill, Daily News Egypt reported. Residents, countering the claims, shared pictures on social media of the dogs before and after they were killed. One of the dogs was pregnant and was killed even as witnesses nearby complained. Some eyewitnesses said one resident saved two dogs when she stood between them and the employees’ guns.
— Anغam ♫ (@LevantMelodies) December 29, 2015
The Directorate of Veterinary Medicine called off the program Sunday. Individuals on Facebook tied the policy to the appointment of a new governor, Mohamed Abd El-Zaher, Saturday. It was, however, unclear whether he had a hand in the recent orders.
Stray dogs and cats are common in Egypt, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa. The government in the past has allowed for the killing of stray animals, and in February, PETA Asia Pacific started a petition titled “Urge Egypt to Stop Cruel Cull of Dogs!” which called for an end to "cruel and dangerous killings."