Fires of criticism and calls to boycott the Contemporary Art and Culture Center, Darb 1718, showered social media after it was accused of allowing the municipality to poison stray dogs staying at the centre on Wednesday.
Calls started spreading after a post published by Darb 1718’s Facebook page went viral on social media, in which they explained that the dogs got poisoned without the knowledge of the administration; a statement that was met with disbelief social media users, especially after declaring that the administration did ask for the General Organisation for Veterinary Services’ help—which is known for only putting stray animals down.
“Ever since the opening of Darb 1718 in 2008, a few dogs and cats grew up inside the building, and we always considered them an inseparable part of the place. However, the troop kept on getting bigger and bigger over the last few months, and they started attacking people,” Moataz Naserldin, Darb 1718’s owner, told Daily News Egypt.
According to Nasreldin, the troop attacked three people, including two children, without any reasons in the past months, which led the administration to seek help from other organisations to prevent the attacks from happening. After a while, the cultural centre’s Facebook page started getting complains about people who are unable to visit the place due to their fear.
“We contacted several shelters in order to take the troop’s new members which attack people, yet all the answers we met were that they only take severely injured animals, or that they are out of space to welcome any new members,” Nasreldin explained, adding, “we even offered the dogs for adoption several times through publishing their photos on our personal Facebook profiles, yet we only received people’s sympathy, without anyone offering any alternative solutions for our problem.”
One of the organisations they did seek help from was the General Organization for Veterinary Services; however, for months, they did not get any answer from it.
At the end, the administration found someone who was willing to take the dogs to stay at his factory with the workers, only one day before the massacre took place.
In the Facebook post, Darb 1718 explained that when they asked for the help of the General Organisation for Veterinary Services, they did not know that the only solution they provide for similar cases is to kill them.
“I didn’t slightly know that any official organisation would have the heart to end their lives,” he insisted.
It was late at night, with only the guards and cleaning staff, when two doctors got off a car with the slogan of the organisation. Without reaching out for Naserliden, who filed the complaint in the first place, or any of the existing people, they started giving some food to the dogs.
“The staff thought that officials are finally responding to calls of putting the dogs to sleep before transferring them elsewhere,” Nasreldine said, “yet just when they were getting near the two men to talk to them, they noticed the dogs’ instant spasms, and when they realized what’s happening, they started attacking the doctors, who jumped in the car right away.”
The post was met with hundreds of angry comments, who refuted Darb 1718’s claims and accused them of cooperating with the veterinary services organisation to put the dogs down.
“I’m so disgusted, and you don’t have any reason in any way to put an end for these souls. You are not God, and if He wanted that, He wouldn’t have created them in the first place…shame on you,” one post said.
“I’m not refraining myself from guilt; I just didn’t think they would end up dead at the hands of those who are supposed to be helping them,” Nasreldine added.
Not all dogs died from the poison, and those who had survived and spent all of their lives at Darb 1718 are to be vaccinated and sterilized with the help of the Egyptian Baladi Rescue & Rehabilitation shelter HOPE, in order to avoid a similar scenario from happening in the future.
According to Nasreldine, his plan is to use what happened into setting a strategy to save the 2,000 stray dogs in the area of Old Cairo, where the centre is located.
“We will dedicate a part of the centre and turn it into an animal shelter with food and water for stray dogs, and our plan is to expand that shelter and dedicate a part of the institution’s profit into other shelters to expand and allow stray animals in,” he concluded.