With the lights of a million rescuers blinking like stars in the night sky, it’s nearly impossible to distinguish among them. But if you look closely, you’ll see that the glimmer shared by Harmony Fund’s “Hall of Fame” heroes includes mud on their shoes and rain in their hair because rescue is messy, all-weather business.
Hoda Mklad is a long-time animal activist and rescuer who runs the Freedom Shelter in Cairo, Egypt. She made a deep impression on us last year when she carefully descended a steep embankment, entered waist-deep mucky water and made her way over to a trapped white dog on the opposite side. Completely blind to the unseen dangers in that water and the risks of a bite from a cornered animal, Hoda put the life of a stray dog before her own. Yes, fairly quickly it became clear that Hoda was one of us.
“I am very happy when I am surrounded by strange dogs,” Hoda explains while feeding a new group of stray dogs on the steps of a building in Cairo. “My cart is full of their sustenance every day. They see me like they knew me for years. I saw them and I was happy for them. I touch the body of every dog and I feed them like they are my babies,”
Right now, Hoda is moving all 310 dogs from her Freedom Shelter to a new location in Giza after the municipal building department in Cairo retroactively issued a ruling that the land of her present shelter could not be built upon, forcing her to have to swiftly assemble fencing, housing, drainage, water, electricity, quarantine areas and a storage area in a new location. All of this sits on top of the normally challenging task of providing food, sanitation and veterinary medicine for the pack. This has pushed Hoda’s rescue center well past its means and into a very precarious situation.
The good news is that Harmony Fund specializes in throwing a sturdy lifeline to rescuers hanging on by a thread. We are doing all we can to help with the costs of the new shelter and sustaining the dogs’ everyday needs. Last night, the first of the dogs were transported to the new location and every nose was pressed to the ground, carefully inspecting their new home.
The new shelter has shade trees to help ease the heat of summer and ample room for the dogs to run and play and nap. Sturdy walls and gates will keep the dogs safe from the outside world. This oasis will host the forgotten dogs of a city where many people classify dogs as garbage. But not here. At Hoda’s shelter, each and every soul is truly treasured. Old dogs, feral dogs and dogs with cancer get the special care they need. They aren’t simply thrown into the pack, but seen as individuals. And although most will never be adopted and get the chance to live with a family of their own, Hoda is their family.
“Thank you, you are angels,” Hoda said in a message to Harmony Fund supporters. “You helped me. right on time. Your support always makes me feel strong.”