August 5, 2021

In Algiers, animal rights activists stand up against the systematic slaughter of stray dogs and cats

LETTER FROM ALGIERS

At Haifa Rezagui, pets are always welcome. Including the bastards this Algerian vet says she wants “Restore legitimacy”. An activist in animal protection, she receives, surrounded by Melissa, Albert, Dahbia, Mahrez, Zouina … dogs, some of which are blind, deaf or amputated.

All gathered in Staoueli, in the west of Algiers, in a field-refuge rented to a private individual and managed by a dozen volunteers headed by Haifa Rezagui. A year ago, the 40-year-old with a chubby face decided to create the BCHE association (Algeria Billy for Compassion, Humanity and Empathy) to legitimize this volunteer work dating back more than fifteen years, to welcome visitors and raise awareness among the population. . But no question for her to request any subsidy from the state. “It wouldn’t make sense. How would I then go about denouncing the Galoufa? “, she explains.

As in a book by Camus

La Galoufa, this is the name given by the Algerians to the municipal services which capture animals, in particular stray dogs and cats, and sometimes even domestic ones, to slaughter them systematically in order to avoid bites and the spread of diseases. of all kinds. At the origin of this practice, which dates from the French colonial era, there was, it is said, Garufa, a Spaniard from the popular district of Bab El-Oued. The character had made a specialty of catching stray dogs at a time when rabies was still rampant.

The show offered by Garufa, whose name was quickly transformed into Galoufa in popular parlance, enlivened the streets of Algiers. Caricatured, the object of popular songs and legends, the character even finds an echo in the unfinished autobiographical novel by Albert Camus, The First Man, published in 1994.

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The author says: “Galoufa then seized on the top of the carriage a bull’s-eye terminated by an iron chain which slid in a ring along the handle. (…) The dog captured, he gave the iron chain some play and freed the neck of the now captive dog. At least, it was like this when the dog was not receiving the protection of the neighborhood children. Because all were in league against Galoufa. They knew that the captured dogs were taken to the municipal pound, kept for three days, after which, if no one came to claim them, the animals were put to death. “

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