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“It must stop one day”: in Tunisia, the return of the slaughter of stray dogs



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In late July, several Tunisian municipalities announced that they were launching a campaign to kill stray dogs, an annual practice that was widely condemned by animal welfare organizations as barbaric. NEW: Officials plan to hire hunters who will help municipal agents track down street dogs. Tunisian activists have contacted our editorial staff to draw attention to the practice, which they describe as genocide.

Warning, some of the images in this article may be shocking

In a statement posted to his Facebook page on July 21, the governor of Tunis announced a campaign to kill stray dogs in Tunis and several other municipalities in the country. The action plan, established in May 2022, claims to “ensure the safety of citizens and tourists and preserve the aesthetics of cities”.

Municipalities are now collaborating with poachers’ associations, ensuring “continuing vaccination and sterilization campaigns” of stray dogs in collaboration with veterinary associations, the press release said. Campaigns by these same organizations are nonetheless condemned, along with supporting images, on social networks.

On most of them we see the carcasses of dogs being killed, left on the streets or in the dustbins. Sometimes the animal is still alive, though seriously injured, and dies in a pool of blood. The authors of the video excerpts do not mince their words about the government’s decision.

In a video shot on June 28 in the tourist district of Monastir (East), we see a bloody dog ​​lying on the street near a pool of dried blood. The author of the excerpt says: “In Tunisia, we start our day with blood, with dogs killed (…) This is a tourism promotion: killing stray dogs in front of the Ribat of Monastir … of children In front… nobody wanted to come there. [chienne] Help on the spot…”

“The show made me sick. They even killed the puppies.”

Khadija, a British national who volunteers with stray cattle, has been living in the center of Hammamet (North-East) for more than two years. On the morning of June 18, she found several street dogs, which she regularly fed, shot and killed by city officials.

she tells :

I didn’t see them shoot, I went home around 2 am and found my street littered with dead dogs. First, I saw a dog in the street, a dog I loved. It looked like a car had hit him. When I got out of the car, the residents told me: “This is the municipality, there are no more.”

“Her name was Lisa,” Khadija told our editors. He took this picture on 18 June at 2:55 am in Barrackett Essel, Hammamet. © Photo taken by our supervisor Khadija

That night, I saw only a few corpses, but I heard that about fifty dogs were killed in a single evening, and the municipality plans to slaughter many more in the evening… I won’t go looking for any more corpses. Well, the sight made me sick. I cried bitterly for a few days, I was feeling numb. They even killed the puppies.

“We are always defeated by these barbaric practices”

It was the first time I had seen something so disturbing. Like many other volunteers, I sterilize and vaccinate as many animals as possible, but it is never enough. We are always defeated by these barbaric practices. It has to stop one day.

We regularly run out of rabies vaccines for pets, and even when the municipality opens a sterilization center, the premises are rarely open to the public or volunteers. However, many of us would volunteer.

The Tunisian government, however, promised in 2020 to end these slaughter operations, regularly practiced by municipal police in Tunisia and condemned by animal protection associations.

In 2021, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child estimated in a report that children’s exposure to violence against animals is detrimental to the best interests of the child, and recommended that Tunisia eliminate these practices.

Screengrabs from a video filmed on the morning of August 5 and posted to an animal protection group on Facebook.  We see a municipal worker dumping the body of a dog in a trash can in Bir Bouregba, Hammamet.
Screengrabs from a video filmed on the morning of August 5 and posted to an animal protection group on Facebook. We see a municipal worker dumping the body of a dog in a trash can in Bir Bouregba, Hammamet. © Tunisia Animal Rescue on Facebook

The Tunisia Animals Voice Collective sent a letter to the President of Tunisia in December 2021, challenging him on the need to enact an animal protection law that would end slaughter and develop the sterilization and vaccination of stray animals. The same collective has launched an online petition with similar objectives, which has collected over 44,000 signatures so far.

“The solution is simple: feed them, sterilize them and vaccinate them”

Malika is one of the founders of Tunisia Animal Voices, a collective that collects images and evidence of violence against animals and challenges Tunisian authorities and associations. she explains :

We are trying to mobilize as many people online as possible against these massacres. Municipalities often post notices of dog slaughter on Facebook, so this is an opportunity to fill the comment thread with messages that condemn these practices. In 2020, it prompted the mayor of Tunis to react, even though he has since reconsidered his anti-slaughter statements.

read up on supervisors , In Tunisia, a new “barbaric” campaign to kill stray dogs

Among the many volunteers for the cause in the area, veterinarian Dr Soumya Chowk goes on to suggest to municipalities that they opt for the TNR method (“trap-neuter-release” – atrapper-sterilizer-releacher in French). Overcome overcrowding and fight rabies.

The Tunisian state provides rabies vaccines to animals that already have an owner, and excludes stray animals. But then he kills the same out-of-care animals on the pretext that they are insane!

If the figures of rabies infection are increasing, then it is directly the fault of the government’s policy.

The solution is simple: feed them, sterilize them, and vaccinate them.

More and more Tunisian municipalities, such as Sousse, Raud or Rades, announced that they want to open shelters and sterilize dogs. But they lack financial and medical resources. An Italian-Tunisian consortium, L’arca Di Noé, proposed to the Ministry of the Interior military and budgetary support for governors wishing to continue the project in 2021. Other municipalities, such as Djerba, explicitly refuse the TNR method due to pressure from residents, who prefer a more radical solution to the dog population on the island.