Help the Cats and Dogs of Egypt!

Reader Jennifer Habley alerted us to this plea to help the cats and dogs of Egypt, written by Gwen Cooper (Homer's mom).  We've reprinted it below.  If you can help in any way, please do so, and please pass the word along!!!
I'm assuming that everybody reading this knows something of the current chaos reigning in Egypt, so I won't rehash it here.  As you may have guessed, the situation is becoming desperate for Egypt's animal population and the humans who rescue them.
I've spent the past several days on the phone with the director of an organization called the Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals (ESMA).  It was a conversation held in fits in starts, as the unrest in the area has made it difficult to maintain a phone connection for any length of time.  But I've been able to get a sense of the challenges ESMA and organizations like them are facing, and what we can do to help.
The director of ESMA asked me if I truly thought my readers would be concerned about the plight of animals all the way in Egypt.  I told her that my readers are animal lovers, and we all understand that animals aren't citizens of countries.  They're citizens of our hearts, and our hearts have no borders.
Please keep in mind, guys, as I explain some of the problems facing ESMA and the animals they rescue, that I wouldn't bother doing so if there weren't a few completely realistic and simple things we can do from here to help make things better.
What Are the Problems?
Egypt hasn't traditionally had much in the way of infrastructure when it comes to animal welfare, so there was already a large population of cats and dogs living on the streets.  Those cats and dogs are now getting caught up in the tear gas being used against protestors.  ESMA has retrieved dozens of cats and dogs who were on the brink of death, unable to breathe because of the tear gas and with eyes so swollen they couldn't see.  And even the physical injuries often pale in comparison to the sheer terror these defenseless creatures are being subjected to.
Foreign citizens living in Egypt have been returning to their own countries, forced to abandon their cats and dogs.  Pet stores--most stores, in fact--have been closed for days, with nobody checking on the animals trapped inside who are slowly starving to death.  The same goes for zoos.  The banks are closed, which means ESMA has no access to funds with which to purchase food and medical supplies.  Some rescue groups are being forced to feed their rescues a diet of bread soaked in water.  Homes are being raided and burned down with defenseless pets inside.  The volunteers at ESMA are taking turns guarding their shelter 24 hours a day, as raids and fires are happening in their neighborhood as well.
How Can We Help?
1. Donate money. An influx of dollars is the best immediate thing we can do to help ESMA and the animals they serve.  Dollars will actually be more useful than Egyptian pounds right now when it comes to buying food, medicine, and other supplies.  Dollars can also be used to hire trained teams to rescue animals from abandoned pet stores, zoos, and homes.
Even a small amount of money--say $20--can go a very long way in a situation like this.
Here's a link to ESMA's donation page.  Please, please give what you can--as I said, even an amount  of money so small that you think it couldn't do any good can save lives now, especially if all of us chip in.
Donations are made through PayPal.
2. Animal Rescue. Obviously, the best long-term scenario will be to get as many of these cats and dogs out of Egypt as we possibly can.  For various bureaucratic reasons, it will be far simpler and far less expensive to try to bring them into the US or Canada than European countries.
I've started reaching out to the dozens of shelters I've been in touch with since the book first came out.  I've gotten very positive responses so far (and, truly, God bless you guys!).  If you volunteer with a shelter that could make room for even one or two cats or dogs, that would mean a great deal.  Or if you or anybody you know would be willing to provide a foster home for one little guy, that would also be a tremendous help.  Please leave a note in the comments section, or email me at gwen(at)gwencooper(dot)com.
I've been trying to make some headway with the Humane Society and SPCA International to assist with the physical transportation of these animals out of Egypt.  I haven't had much luck getting through to the right people thus far, but today I'm going to approach some of the "bigger guns" I've been in touch with since the book first came out--animal-loving celebrities,  journalists, and representatives of international rescue groups--to see if they can help.
Again, if you're reading this and you have a contact at such an organization or international rescue group, please get in touch with me at gwen(at)gwencooper(dot)com.
UPDATE: I've spoken with ESMA again.  If we can find places for the animals here, they can arrange for the transport.  So PLEASE, if you work with a shelter, see if they can take in even one cat.  I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I will be, or how much of a future claim you will have on me.     And if you or someone you know is in a position to foster, please let me know ASAP!
3. Spread the word. I never beg you guys to draw people's attention to a blog post of mine, but now I'm begging.  Please help get the word out.  Link to this post, or ESMA's donation page, on your own blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, etc.  Tell your friends, families, co-workers, veterinarians, rescue groups you may work with, and anybody else you can think of.  There's been essentially no media coverage of this issue thus far, so just creating awareness will go a long way toward making things better.
On a more personal note, those of you who read my book know what I went through trying to get back to Homer, Scarlett, and Vashti at Ground Zero in the immediate aftermath of September 11th.  It was only through the donations and efforts of people like all of you and organizations like the ASPCA that I was able to do so.
We can never know what kinds of extreme or unpredictable circumstances will separate us from our pets, but I think we all sleep better at night knowing that there are others out there--as committed to animal welfare as we are--who will be willing to help us.  So let's do this not just for the animals of Egypt and the people risking their own lives to help them, but also for ourselves.
Again, our hearts have no borders.  I know we can do this, guys.  I know we can make a difference.  God bless you all!

Filed under: Cats in the News

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