5 min read

City Is Full Of Homeless Dogs Because People Only Want To Buy Purebreds

"The shelters are full so they can't take more animals in."

In a major metropolitan city that is home to over a million people, there are just two animal shelters. They're totally full and countless more needy animals roam the streets.

That's because there's a sad stigma in Rabat, Morocco's capital, according to Katyayani Rico, an animal lover who has been volunteering for two years at Association de Défense des Animaux et de la Nature (ADAN), one of the two shelters. The other is La Tribu des Quat'pattes.

"Animals aren't really taken care of," Rico told The Dodo. "Even worse when it comes to dogs because people here believe they chase angels away and that they cannot be touched."

Street dogs in Rabat, Morocco

Rico knows firsthand just how sweet and loving the street dogs of Rabat can be — she adopted two of them herself when they were just tiny puppies.

Puppy saved from streets of Rabat
Puppies adopted from streets of Morocco
Rico's dogs when she first saved them from the streets of Rabat | Rico

"He was so small we thought he wasn't going to make it, but one of the mom dogs at the shelter raised him and thanks to that he survived," she said. "I ended up adopting him, as well as another puppy that touched my heart."

But Rico is in the minority. 

Rico's dogs all grown up in their home | Rico

"The few Moroccans who like dogs, instead of adopting one at the shelter, want a purebred," Rico said. "Their favorites here are German shepherds and huskies."

Meanwhile, so many street dogs remain unwanted. "The shelters are full so they can't take more animals in," Rico said.

Street dogs in Morocco

And the dogs suffer the consequences of the stigma. Last year, a video surfaced of stray dogs in being killed in Morocco, shedding light on the problem of unwanted street dogs as well as the cruelty they face. 

Street dogs in Morocco

The people at the ADAN shelter have been trying to provide food and shelter to the dogs, as well as some cats, as much as they can. They hope to expand by getting a farm outside the city, but due to lack of funding, they haven't been able to yet. "The shelter is a place that the municipality gave," Rico said. "The idea is that it should be temporary but since there are no adoptions, the animal population keeps growing and sometimes there's just no more space."

Shelter dogs in Morocco

But the shelter workers and volunteers are doing what they can with what they have to give the street dogs some joy. Recently, the volunteers at the shelter decided to do something special and take them to the beach, which many of them had never seen before. 

Patojita (pa – to – hee- ta) has been at the shelter the longest, it's been more than 2 years and a half now that she's with us, she was rescued as a puppy from the streets in Rabat. Within those two years, she never left the shelter since our first walk with some of the dogs was yesterday. Patoheeta was mesmerized by the ocean and wouldn't stop staring at it, but what surprised us even more was how educated she was, she never pulled us while walking her, she simply walked at our rhythm. Wonderful Patojita we love you and hope that someday you will find that person that will love you, adopt you and take you out on walks, for us it was a pleasure doing so and making you happy even for a bit 🐶🐾💜 • • • Patojita es quien ha estado en el refugio por más tiempo, ya van dos años y medio desde que está con nosotros, fue rescatada de cachorra en las calles de Rabat y durante esos dos años, ella nunca más volvió a salir del refugio ya que nuestra primera salida con algunos de los perros fue ayer. Patojita estaba fascinada con el mar y no paraba de mirarlo, lo que más nos sorprendió a nosotros fue lo educada que es, nunca tiró de la correa mientras caminabamos, simplemente caminaba a nuestro ritmo. Maravillosa Patojita te amamos y esperamos que algún día encuentres a la persona que te amará, adoptará y te sacará a pasear, para nosotros ha sido un placer poderte sacar y hacerte feliz un rato 🐶🐾💛 • • • Patojita (pa – to – hee- ta) a été au refuge le plus longtemps, ça fait plus de 2 ans et demi maintenant qu'elle est avec nous, elle a été sauvée en tant que chiot des rues de Rabat. Au cours de ces deux années, elle n'a jamais quitté le refuge car notre première promenade avec quelques chiens été hier. Patojita a été hypnotisé par l'océan et n'arrêtait pas de le regarder, mais ce qui nous a étonné encore plus, de voir comment elle était éduquée, elle n’a jamais tiré de la laisse, elle a simplement marché à notre rythme. Merveilleuse Patojita, nous t’aimons et espérons qu'un jour tu retrouveras cette personne qui t’aimera, t’adoptera et te promènera, pour nous, c'était un plaisir de le faire et de te rendre heureuse 🐶🐾💚

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Rico hopes that if people see how personable and sweet the dogs at the shelter are, they can start changing how they're thinking about rescue dogs. "With education, great things can be done," Rico said.

Until that time comes, these dogs can take pleasure in the little things, like walks on the beach. Rico also hopes that foreigners will also take an interest in adopting the street dogs from a distance, which is something ADAN has done in the past. Hopefully soon some of these dogs will know the biggest pleasure of all — having a home. 

Street dogs of Morocco
Street puppy rescued in Morocco
To help ADAN rescue more dogs from the streets of Rabat, you can follow and share its rescue work on Facebook and Instagram. You can also contact ADAN about making a donation or about adopting a dog from Rabat.