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Oasis Magazine Articles

ESAF Animal Shelter

January 23, 2013

I have aspired to be a vet for many years now and have had a strong love for animals. As most of us know the treatment of animals in Egypt is lacking in some areas

, we’ve all seen wild dogs running through the streets and cats rumbling through our rubbish. Not only has this furthered my love for animals but it has also encouraged me to help. To help the animals of Egypt before my time here is over; I wanted to find somewhere to work with animals for experience in an animal shelter. This is when I found ESAF, down a small street in Sakkara; it’s a charitable organisation that has mobile clinics moving out to neighbouring areas throughout the week.  ESAF was founded over 30 years ago and always has an open door to volunteers who would like to come and help out in any way that they can.


The Egyptian Society of Animal Friends does some of the best work with animals that I have seen in Egypt; their care for any animal, big or small is outstanding with well-trained and qualified vets. ESAF has been one of the leading groups on changing animal welfare laws in Egypt, including the problems that arose after footage was leaked from Cairo University over the treatment of animals that were to be used by the veterinary school. Their facilities though small, account for any animal that they are given and can hold many dogs and cats, either balady (street) animals, which they have rescued and are nursing back to health or animals that are boarding.  Their facilities include an operation room, where I can presume from its name you know what happens there, a cat boarding room, two cat rehabilitation rooms where injured or infected animals can be treated without affecting boarding cats. 


ESAF also has numerous kennels for boarding dogs and street dogs that require rest, also containing a communal area for the healthy dogs to play and move around in. My two favourite areas in ESAF, without a doubt, are the donkey stable which usually houses a donkey that has been saved off the streets. The donkey is treated and held at the practice until he can be moved to a local farm where the donkeys can graze and sleep in peace.  My other favourite room is the monkey enclosure, which holds ESAF’s very own monkey, which was saved from an animal hoarder many years ago.


I was very nervous about first volunteering at ESAF because, though I have lived in Egypt for nearly 7 years, my Arabic is not what it should be! I was worried that I might not be accepted because I know much less about animals than they do. It was the complete opposite, the workers at ESAF speak good English with a friendly smile always on their faces, something that I feel is hard to find. 

One of the main reasons that I chose to work at ESAF is that they put so much effort into the work they do and yet the recognition and support from surrounding communities is so small. ESAF’s incredible work includes a trap, neuter and release program, which focuses on capturing stray dogs and cats and preventing them from having any pups or kittens, this has greatly helped control wild dog and cat populations in their local area. Clinics are also a large part of ESAF’s efforts to help animals in Egypt. Doctor Mohamed regularly visits camel markets, the Pyramids and local farms where farmers are encouraged to approach him with problems. As I mentioned before, ESAF is a charitable organisation where fees for operations, check ups and treatments are not fixed which makes donations to the charity even more important. The Egyptian revolution has hit them hard, as many expats including myself have had their movements restricted; therefore ESAF’s support from volunteers has greatly decreased.


What greatly surprised me when I went to ESAF is the difficulty it takes to find and acquire medicine, equipment and other provisions for animals in Egypt. Animal medicine is very difficult to find in Egypt so it either has to be ordered in from abroad or as ESAF has been forced to do, use human medication on their patients. Though these medicines do work well enough, it is obviously not ideal that we have to give puppies medicine that you might give to your kids! Furthermore, it can be difficult and expensive to even find equipment here, thankfully through the support of the NCBIS CAS program we have been able to fix that problem for the time being. So far in our efforts we have been able to buy provisions for ESAF including 9000 pairs of surgical gloves and flycatchers to help keep the area clean and healthy.


Since working at ESAF I have made it my goal to help improve the conditions in the practice, because all I can say is that the people that work here deserve so much for the work and effort that they have put in to helping the animals of Egypt. Through the IB CAS program I have created a team that regularly joins me going to ESAF animal shelter once a week on Saturdays, where we clean enclosures, groom the dogs and cats, and most importantly give the animals a bit of TLC. Because that really is what most animals want, to be loved and to have a fuss made over them. Our efforts on helping will continue for as long as they need us, our project at the moment is to raise funds for a portable ultrasound machine, which would bring profits and business to ESAF. We plan to raise the money for the machine through a charity bike ride from the Sakkara pyramids to the Dashur pyramids this February. Everyone and anyone are welcome!


If you would like to help ESAF by volunteering or by simply making a donation please email me at


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