Thursday, February 24, 2011

ESMA Press Release

Headlines throughout the world have tracked the recent upheaval in many parts of the Middle East. What started in Tunisia spread like wildfire; demonstrations and protests have crippled many countries in the region.

Egypt was one of these countries. Egypt, the land known for its ancient history which bore the roots for modern civilization has long been a hot destination for tourists. Tourism is one of the primary means of income for the Egyptian economy. The unrest put an abrupt end to this form of income, which even to this day is struggling to recuperate.

The Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals (ESMA) is a non-profit animal rescue shelter based in the heart of Egypt, the capital city Cairo. ESMA began its work in response to mass shootings of dogs and cats in 2007. Founded by a few dedicated Egyptians and expatriates, ESMA has been fighting for the rights of animals in Egypt ever since.

When demonstrations and clashes erupted in Egypt, chaos and disorder ensued. Looting, theft, violence marred the country, effectively putting an end to the tourism industry, damaging an already fragile economy, and pushing many expatriates to evacuate the country. These three weeks of unrest had a devastating impact on organizations such as ESMA, who to this day are doing all they can to stay afloat. ESMA is in urgent need of help to provide food and shelter to an increasing number of stray cats and dogs.

In the beginning of this year, ESMA's shelter provide refuge for over 600 cats and dogs. Run entirely on donations and volunteers, the rescue society relied on the generosity of others. This need today is greater than it has ever been.

When faced with the decision of leaving or staying in the country at potential risk to your own safety, many expats were forced to evacuate, leaving behind not only their homes, but their family pets also. Dogs and cats were left abandoned on the streets or euthanized as worried owners struggled with the burden of what to do next. The Egyptian city Cairo is notorious for the numbers of stray cats and dogs that run the streets, but these animals stood out. Healthier, evidently well fed, ESMA volunteers were seeing many cats and dogs that had been abandoned.

During the period of unrest, ESMA volunteers picked up over 26 cats and dogs that were abandoned by their owners and left in the streets to fend for themselves. As the country works towards rebuilding its future, the future of these animals remains uncertain. To this day, nobody has stepped forward to claim the animals taken in by the rescue shelter. To this day, ESMA struggles with the burden of feeding over 600 cats and dogs on a daily basis. When asked how bad the situation really is, Susie Nasser, a founding member of ESMA, said

"We are continually struggling to locate/buy food, medicines, pay the rent and the workers’ salaries, and even find detergents and disinfectants. We are only able to offer our animals one meal, instead of the usual 2 meals per day."

Animal lovers worldwide have banded together to help ESMA during their times of dire need. Donations from pet owners throughout the world have helped in keeping the rescue shelter afloat, but the light at the end of the tunnel is still far away. ESMA is sending out a plea for help from every dog, cat, or animal owner throughout the world. Even a small donation can help to feed an animal for a few days.

For more information or to find out how you can help ensure that these animals can live to see another day, please visit ESMA's website at Alongside donations, ESMA also offers sponsorships for specific animals. By sponsoring an animal, you are sent pictures of your furry friend, and updates on their situation as they increase in strength and health.

ESMA has already helped hundreds of animals struggling in Egypt. Now, they need your help. Please take a moment out of your time to do what you can.

From all of us at ESMA, both two legged and four legged, thank you for your consideration. We hope to welcome you all back to a better and brighter Egypt!

About the author:

Susan Richards-Benson is a journalist who has been living and working in Egypt for the past 5 years. An avid animal lover, Susan owns one rescue dog herself, and has actively campaigned for the rights of animals in Egypt. Susan has been volunteering with ESMA since 2010.

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