Friday, September 18, 2015

Journo rewrites lives of strays with compassion

(My article in The Gulf Today, Sept.18, 2015)
SHARJAH: It was the sight of a blind dog desperately searching for food in a Cairo suburb that opened the eyes of Ayman Higazy to the plight of shelterless and handicapped animals.
A school-going child at that time, Ayman decided to help the animal and started feeding food, such as bones or chicken skin, every day.
“The blind dog could smell and feel me around even at a range of 200 metres. He used to sit in front of me and wag his tail...He never ate before ever doing that,” Ayman says.
The friendship extended for more than a year after which the dog suddenly disappeared.
“I was told that the municipal authorities had taken the dog away. The news choked me and I cried for a long time. My family advised me to accept the inevitable and move on.”
Now working as a journalist in the UAE, Ayman continues his mission to help cats and dogs that do not have shelter.
On his office campus, his colleagues often see him feeding a multitude of cats and fondly call him the “Cat Man.”
Interestingly, he gets unstinted support from his wife, who keeps aside fresh food for the animals daily, despite her preoccupation with work as a doctor. “Every day when I return home, she invariably asks whether the food was enough for the pets.”
Ayman sees the shelterless animals as more intelligent than home pets. Perhaps suffering has a lot to do with intellect. “They have more experiences, often painful, than those pampered by their masters at home. Also, they have health immunity because of the food variety and environment changes,” he says.
In Cairo, not all his neighbours took kindly to his animal welfare deeds. Many had expressed disdain at his being surrounded by cats and dogs. However, what Ayman finds amusing is the fact that they all agreed with him that animals “were loyal.”
On a recent visit home, Ayman had an interesting incident when he went to buy clothes from a crowded area. “A huge dog rushed towards me from under a parked car. She came running through crowds of people, jumped over me by almost putting her front legs on my chest. Some bystanders got worried that it was trying to attack me, but I realised that she was one of the dogs that I had offered food earlier. It wagged its tail and the affection was visible.”
Living in the UAE for nearly 18 years, Ayman has helped several hapless animals by sending them to shelters, which offer them for adoption.
Sometimes, he hosts a dog if there is not enough space in the shelters. Interestingly, he gets the support of many local veterinary doctors who are touched by his enthusiasm to help the animals and even offer free treatment.
“I recently met a veterinary doctor whom I had requested to adopt a wonderful dog, Jimmy, three years ago. When I asked about the pet, she started crying, saying Jimmy had passed away,” says Ayman.
The doctor refused to adopt any more animals saying ‘she missed Jimmy too deeply’.”
Ayman suggests that animals should be treated more kindly. “I recently saw a man whacking a cat near his shop for no reason. I went up to him and requested not to repeat such action. But he just did not care.”
The journalist says he will continue with his mission to help hapless animals. “Just a look at a cat’s eye is enough to feel great satisfaction. The animals rejoice and grieve the same way as we humans and, in fact, they are mo
re faithful than some people,” he smiles.


  1. This man is doing a great job indeed! I love animals too and hate people who torture stray animals for fun or out of their own frustration.

  2. kudos to the man for doing such a fantastic job