efe-epaGiza (Egypt)

A recently-opened animal hotel and shelter in Egypt has been providing pet owners with a safe place to leave their treasured cats and dogs when they are out of town, an epa-efe photojournalist reports Monday.

But beyond hosting pets, the "Hotel of Mercy," located in the Saqarra area of the city of Giza, near Cairo, also acts as a shelter, welcoming stray animals that have been saved from the streets by its team of rescue workers, according to its owner, Ashraf Saber.

"A year ago, the animal shelter of SPAR (Society for the Protection of Animal Rights in Egypt) had been closed, then I decided not to work for another place as I have the needed experience to open a new shelter," Saber told epa-efe.

Saber, who has been working in the animal welfare sector for some 15 years, decided to open the hotel and shelter in 2018 following the closure of a shelter belonging to SPAR.

Before opening the hotel and shelter last year, Saber had worked as an assistant to SPAR veterinarians, a role in which he learned all about animal welfare, including the medical treatment of dogs, cats and donkeys.

Saber's center, which is staffed 24 hours a day by a team of five people, was currently looking after about 50 stray cats and 25 pet dogs, but it has the capacity to host more, the epa-efe reporter said.

Saber said he opened the hotel in order to host cats and dogs, whose owners are traveling and do not have anywhere else to leave their animals.

The center also takes in strays, with a team that brings them in for care.

"Sometimes people call us and tell that there is a stray dog that is going to be poisoned," he said, adding that the team heads out to rescue the animal and brings it back to the shelter. "We clean it and give it the needed vaccinations."

"So when we find a place with animals that are going to be harmed, or poisoned, they go catch them," said Saber.

He said the Hotel of Mercy had already rescued some 50 stray cats and 25 stray dogs.

The center does not accept any donations, with pet owners paying 50 EGP ($2.80) per day to have their animals cared for.

Saber hopes that the hotel and shelter, which operates on the fees paid by the pet owners, will be able to expand in the future to offer play areas for the felines and canines who come to stay.