At the end of July, several Tunisian cities announced that they were launching a campaign to exterminate stray dogs, an annual practice widely declared barbaric by animal welfare organizations. New: authorities plan to hire hunters to help municipal agents track street dogs. Tunisian activists contacted our editorial staff to draw attention to this practice, which they described as murder.
Warning, some images found in this article may be shocking
In a statement posted on July 21 on its Facebook page, the governor of Tunis announced a campaign to exterminate stray dogs in Tunis and other cities in the country. The work plan, drawn up in May 2022, claims to “ensure the safety of citizens and tourists and preserve the aesthetics” of the cities.
The press release added that the municipalities are now collaborating with hunters’ associations, while making sure to “continue vaccination and sterilization campaigns” for stray dogs in collaboration with veterinary associations. However, the campaign was criticized by the same organizations, with supportive images, on social networks.
In most of them, we see the carcasses of dogs that have been shot dead, left on the streets or in garbage cans. Sometimes the animal is still alive, though badly wounded, and lies dying in a pool of blood. The authors of the video extracts did not hold back their words about the government’s decision.
In videos filmed 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 quotations says: “In Tunisia, we start our day in blood, with killed dogs (…) This is what promotes tourism: killing stray dogs in front of the Ribat in Monastir… They shot it in front of the children… No one wanted to go there. [chienne] help on the spot. “…
“I was hurt by the show. They even kill the puppies”
Khadija, a British national who volunteers with stray animals, has lived in the center of Hammamet (north-east) for more than two years. On the morning of June 18, he found many dogs in the streets, which he regularly fed, shot and killed by city officials.
I didn’t see them shooting, I came home around 2 am to find my street full of dead dogs. At first, I saw a dog on the street, a dog that I adored. He looked like he had been hit by a car. When I got out of the car, the residents said to me: “This is the municipality, it’s gone.”
That night, I saw only a few corpses, but I heard that about fifty dogs were killed that same night, and the municipality planned a few more nights of killing… I can’t go looking anymore more dead bodies, the sight sickened me. I cried suddenly and for several days, I felt numb. They even kill the puppies.
“We always lose to these barbaric practices”
It was the first time I witnessed something so depressing. Like many other volunteers, I sterilized and vaccinated as many animals as possible, but it was not enough. We are always defeated by these barbaric practices. It has to end one day.
We often run out of rabies vaccines for pets, and even when the municipality opens a sterilization center, the area is rarely open to the public or volunteers. However, many of us volunteer.
However, the Tunisian government promised in 2020 to dismantle these killing campaigns, which are often practiced by the Tunisian municipal police and criticized by animal protection associations.
In 2021, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child estimated in a report that children’s exposure to violence against animals harms the child’s well-being, and recommended that Tunisia eliminate these practices.
The Tunisia Animals Voice collective sent a letter to the President of Tunisia in December 2021, in which he challenged him on the need to create an animal protection law that would end the slaughter and promote the sterilization and vaccination of stray animals. The same collective launched an online petition with the same goal, which has so far collected more than 44,000 signatures.
“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 testimonies of violence against animals and challenges Tunisian authorities and associations. He explained:
We are trying to mobilize as many people as possible online against these killings. Often, municipalities will post a notice of dog killing on Facebook, so this is an opportunity to flood the comment thread with messages criticizing these practices. In 2020, it became the reaction of the mayor of Tunis, although he reconsidered his statements against the killing.
READ ABOUT THE OBSERVERS >> In Tunisia, a new “barbaric” campaign to slaughter stray dogs
Among the many volunteers in this cause in the field, the veterinarian Dr Soumaya Chouk went to the municipalities to suggest that they choose the TNR method (“Trap-Neuter-Release” – Attraper-Stériliser-Relâcher, in French) to to overcome congestion and fight against rabies.
The Tunisian state offers rabies vaccines to animals that already have owners, and stray animals are excluded. But then he kills these same animals that are not included in the care, on the pretext that they are rebellious!
If there is an increase in the numbers of rabies contamination, it is the direct fault of the government policy.
The solution is simple: feed them, sterilize and vaccinate them.
More and more cities in Tunisia, such as Sousse, Raoued or Radès, have announced that they want to open shelters and sterilize dogs. But they lack financial and medical resources. An Italian-Tunisian association, L’arca Di Noé, proposed in 2021 the logistical and budgetary support of the Ministry of Interior to the governors who want to continue this project. Some towns, such as Djerba, completely refuse the TNR method due to pressure from residents who want a more radical solution to the overpopulation of dogs on the island.