In February I went on a journey to Agadir, Morocco, to photograph stray dogs and the work of animal rescue organizations in that area. Here is my travel report and lots of pictures. But be warned: There will be gruesome pictures, too. But also hopeful and beautiful ones, so please stay with me here. Some stories need to be told.
For those of you interested in photography: All pictures were shot with a Fujifilm X-T1 and a Fujifilm X-M1. Lenses used: Fujinon XF 50-140 f2.8 R LM OIS MR, Fujinon XF 35 f2, Fujinon XF 18 f1.4.
There are stray animals everywhere in Agadir. I thought I was prepared for the situation, but I wasn’t. I can only imagine what it must be like for the people trying to improve the situation. It’s like a bottomless pit and a fight against windmills. But here we go. Let’s go on a journey to Morocco.
This young dog looked quite confident and cool. He sat down to watch me while I took pictures of him:
He or she seemed to be a bit older:
There were three of them. One of them was very obsessed with trying to chase his flees.
They come out at dawn to search for food.
A lot of them are very young. I guess it’s not that easy to get old on the streets of Morocco.
Especially in the more rural areas a lot of them are quite shy. This one fled when I tried to get nearer:
I had just finished to photograph this dog when a man came along and kicked her out of the way. Obviously, he wanted to show me what he thought of my motive. He didn’t care about me protesting.
Despite all the gruesome circumstances they live in they have this amazing dignity to them:
Another tragic sight:
It would be entirely impossible to try to gather all of them in shelters or to find homes for them in Europe.
This little fellow took a sunbath on the parking lot of the Kasbah on the hills of Agadir. He seemed to be in peace with the world.
The number of puppies is overwhelming.
These dogs live in a shelter as most of them were found as puppies of a dead mother. If you take them off the streets when they are puppies you can’t take them back later as they didn’t learn what one needs to survive on the streets.
This dog was very affectionate and obedient and obviously in need of his own family and home:
It fascinates me how adaptive dogs are. Even if they experienced the most cruel situations, with love they might learn how to trust again.
Safe but not home yet:
This dog was rescued by Moroccans who came across a man thrashing a stone repeatedly on a bag filled with moving beings. It turned out inside the bag was a litter of puppies. Some of them dead. This is one of the survivors. The trauma was very obvious here:
The situation in the country must be improved first. Spaying and neutering should be of high priority. But it’s also necessary to try to raise awareness among the Moroccans and to try to change their attitude towards the animals. But this is difficult and should only be tried by people acting with respect and cultural empathy. Michèle Augsburger is such a person. Born in Morocco she knows people and country. Thanks a lot to Michèle and her husband Jean-Pierre for your commitment and help.
Life as a stray dog can be quite ok, too. In Taghazout we found well-fed and trusting dogs. They are fed by tourists but also tolerated in restaurants. The restaurant we went to even had an area with dry food for the dogs and cats.
This is one of the beautiful dogs at the beach of Taghazout:
He was with this guy. The earmark means the dog is neutered/spayed.
Every month authorities in Agadir poison 250 dogs. Michèle Augsburger of Association Le Coeur Sur La Patte tries to convince the authorities to spend more money on spaying/neutering and vaccination than on killing the dogs. The poisoning with strychnine is especially cruel. Michèle was able to reach an agreement with the authorities that dogs with earmarks should not be poisoned. Here in Taghazout you can already see the results of this initiative. Quite a few of the dogs are already spayed and neutered. They live peacefully here and are mostly tolerated.
Some of the dogs followed us around town, for example this one here:
He took a bath:
This girl was not spayed yet. We collected some money for the spaying and neutering of stray dogs in Agadir. She will probably be one of the candidates for this project. This way she can live in Taghazout without having puppies. You can still support this project here: Spendenaktion für die Kastration von Hunden in Marokko. The money will entirely be used for the spaying and neutering of stray dogs in this region.
Coolest gang ever:
This beautiful girl was also not fearful at all:
She is also young and not yet spayed.
They waited in front of a restaurant for us:
They have their own “pets”:
We had to experience that the neutering of males is a touchy subject in Morocco. We wanted to neuter a male that lived on a parking lot in Agadir. But we didn’t know that in the meantime a man working by the parking lot had befriended this dog. He wouldn’t have none of it. We tried to explain that the dog is still in danger of being killed if not neutered, but we had to accept that he said “No”.
He is now part of a pack living on that parking lot. Last year my friends, Uwe and Kristina, made sure four of the female dogs there were spayed. They are fed by the car-park attendants.
But not all dogs are that lucky.
This dog at the beach near Agadir shows severe symptoms of the disease Leishmaniasis. In an advanced state like this you can only put the dog out of his misery by putting him to sleep. This is also a task taken over by animal rescue organizations if they’ve got the resources.
This beauty was with the sick dog:
Two days later we were informed that this white dog was poisened only one day after I took these shots.
Good-bye, beauty. I’m sorry.
A terrible sight. This is a severely injured dog with a compound fracture. Despite his injury he managed to escape:
I take my hat off to those people trying to lessen the misery. Michèle Augsburger of Association Le Coeur Sur La Patte together with Tierhilfe Marokko and Stiftung Tierbotschafter run a shelter for animals near Agadir. Here dogs and cats are kept safe and taken care of until, hopefully, they find a forever home in Europe. There is no reasonable chance to find homes for former stray dogs in Morocco itself. The couple Augsburger turned their private property into a safe haven for these animals. Despite the enormous numbers of 60 dogs and 100 cats three Moroccan employees work tirelessly to keep the estate clean. I was very impressed by the harmonic atmosphere and the beautiful ambience. Dogs and cats and even a tortoise roam among orange trees and blooming bougainvillea, laze around in the sun or shadow and live peacefully next to each other. It is a paradise for animals, but, of course, this is also an enormous responsibility, struggle and burden (in terms of time, money, physical and mental health) for the human beings trying to keep this all running. Tourists want to do good and take puppies they find on the streets to this shelter. This is well-meant, but the limits are reached.
Here are some pictures of the beautiful farm of Michèle und Jean-Pierre Augsburger:
And here are some of the dogs, which are ready for shipment to Europe, i.e. they are vaccinated, neutered/spayed and come with all necessary documents. They are rehomed bei the Tierhilfe Marokko. You’ll find more dogs and pictures on their website: Tierhilfe Marokko.
And again, if you would like to help, please contact the following organizations: