Who takes care of Morocco’s stray animals during the lockdown ?

While Morocco is under a lockdown to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, stray animals have been left to their own device. With no food, some of them could starve to death.

Stray cats. / DR
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While Moroccans are home observing social distancing amid the coronavirus crisis, stray animals are struggling to survive during the lockdown that has left most of them starving. Empty streets, no passersby and no food is a situation that these animals have to deal with during the weeks to come.

The situation is rough and complicated, said Julia Nastase from animal protection association La Tribu des Quat'pattes. During these difficult times, some stray cats and dogs «could starve to death», she regretted.

While some people try to feed stray animals in their neighborhoods during the lockdown it is hard to keep these good deeds going. «The people that help feed stray animals, and who heavily rely on restaurants, butchers and farmers markets, to get their supplies are struggling now to carry out their actions», Nastase explained.

To try and overcome some of these challenges, the association encourages «Moroccans to try and feed stray animals in their neighborhoods, all while respecting the preventive measures set by the sanitary authorities», Nastase said.

The association has also launched a campaign to collect dry food for stray cats and dogs and donate them to the people who have the habit of feeding stray animals and are now unable to do it because of the lockdown.

Abandoning pets because of coronavirus 

The same concerns are voiced by Ahmed Tazi, president of the association for the defense of animals and nature and member of the associative network of animal protection and sustainable development in Morocco (RAPAD).

«Donations have dropped drastically», since the start of the lockdown, Tazi reported, adding that although his association tries to «supply volunteers who feed stray animals, resources remain insufficient because most of the suppliers have closed».

Tazi urged people, during the lockdown, to think of animals outside and to try and give them leftovers or food all while respecting the lockdown.

But food is not the only problem facing animals in Morocco amid the outbreak. According to Tazi, several people have been abandoning their pets because of coronavirus. «The number of abandoned pets increased sixfold, mainly dogs and cats», he regretted.

«We are living in difficult situations because people do not understand that public health concerns humans and animals», Tazi argued.

«By abandoning these animals, they can become aggressive and develop rabies symptoms. In addition, they can infect other animals. Abandoning your cat or dog is a selfish gesture, especially knowing that these indoors animals cannot survive on the street».

Ahmed Tazi

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no evidence that «companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the virus». However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets, WHO insisted.

It is also a good idea to remember helpless animals out in the streets during these difficult times.