In a new law adopted in May and entered into force in June, Egypt banned all but 10 dog breeds form being kept as pets. The measure was taken following an incident that took place in February, when a man was attacked and killed by his neighbour’s pit bull.
The law stipulates that owners of dog breeds that are not on the allowed list (Cocker Spaniel, Labrador, Poodle, Malinois, Pomeranian, Jack Russel, Great Dane, White Shepherd, Maltese and Samoyed) have to undergo a safety inspection following which they may or may not be allowed to keep their pet. The safety inspection and registration process costs pet owners 50,000 Egyptian pounds (€1,463), while those who do not register their dogs risk at least 6 months in prison if their animal attacks another person and at least 10 years if the attack results in the death of the victim.
Moreover, a list of “dangerous animal species” is also provided, these being automatically confiscated by the General Authority for Veterinary Services, owners having 21 days to hand their pets over to the authorities. No information has been given about what happens to the collected dogs.
It’s like passing a law prohibiting people from driving cars because of a car accident.Mona Khalil, Chair of the Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals
The move has been heavily criticised, not only for being a rash and drastic response, but also for discrepancies in its text, showing animal experts were not consulted during the drafting process. “Instead of outlawing specific dog breeds, I hoped that the government would establish clear guidelines for their ownership. For instance, I expected the law to rigorously enforce the requirement of leashing and muzzling certain breeds in public spaces”, journalist and dog owner Rasha Sadek told Egyptian newspaper Ahram, explaining that “is possible for a well-treated dog from a prohibited breed to be friendlier than a permitted dog that has been poorly trained”.
“I had also hoped that the new law would incorporate a strategy for sterilising stray dogs to curb their population and address the issue of dog poisoning and killing as criminal offences”, Sadek added.
Besides the bad management of the situation, showing a poor understanding of dog behaviour, the text of the law displays several inconsistencies. Pit Bull, Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Boxer, Husky, Caucasian Shepherd, Bullmastiff, Doberman, Alaskan Malamute and Great Dane are the first 10 prohibited breeds. The German Shepherd is considered a dangerous species, but the White Shepherd is allowed, the latter being just the white furred variety of the former. Great Danes are also present on both allowed and dangerous lists under different names.
Additionally, the list of allowed dogs is very strict and does not include many breeds vetted even by other countries’ restrictive breed laws. While not on the dangerous species list, Golden Retrievers, otherwise known as the friendliest dogs in the world, are also absent from the allowed breeds. Beagles are also featured among the top of most dog friendliness rankings, but are not allowed in Egypt without prior inspection.
Without making any distinction between dogs and wild animals, the dangerous species list also includes: tigers, jaguars, cheetahs and other wild felines, wolves, foxes, hyenas, brown bears, panda bears, hippos, wild buffalos, venomous and other types of snakes, venomous insects, such as scorpions, reptiles, such as crocodiles, and several species of monkeys.