Salima Kadaoui has made it her life’s mission to save stray dogs.
As a youngster, the British-Moroccan woman was left traumatised after seeing them be mistreated.
“When I was eight, I was feeding a lot of strays. Someone called the authorities and they poisoned them,” Salima Kadaoui, 45, told NBC News over the phone from Tangier, northern Morocco.
A vivid memory of a dying dog being suckled by her puppies spurred Kadaoui to take action.
“As a child I wanted to take all of the strays home. There are so many of them. So as an adult, I did it,” she says. “I don’t want to die alone and neither should they.”
Kadaoui now runs an animal sanctuary called SFT in Tangier for stray dogs and other neglected animals.
In its five-year history, the team have rescued over 500 stray dogs and adorned them with yellow tags, which means that they have been vaccinated, neutered, are free of parasites, and that SFT is responsible for them.
Their work has motivated people to contact the sanctuary if they find a stray, rather than chase them away or kill them, Kadaoui insists.
“We’re changing mentalities,” she says. “We’re making them realize how precious dogs are.”
Meanwhile, Kadaoui has been trekking around the country to educate neighborhoods and universities on what they should do if they find a stray, and at her own expense.
It is only through donations from private citizens, an international charity and through social media that she has managed to keep the sanctuary afloat.
She has also received support from her mother and sister, who have themselves taken in strays – including a lamb and wild boar – in honour of her work.
“They think it’s amazing,” says Kadaoui.