STREET DOGS OF TURKEY
If like myself you are an animal lover and come from a country where stray and abandoned dogs are all removed from the streets and hopefully given shelter in ‘no kill’ kennels and wait to be rehomed then some of the images we see on the streets of Turkey may be upsetting at first glance but these four-legged and on occasion three-legged fur balls are part of the country.
There are approx 150,000 street dogs in Turkey currently. They are everywhere, however, if you take a close look these dogs on the whole look fit and well. In the UK a few decades ago dogs that had loving families would go out for a wander alone and return home when it was dinner time. Just like those dog’s, Turkey’s street dogs don’t look like typical stray unloved dogs.
If you are a fan of the Turkish TV and movie industry then you cannot have failed to see them on virtually every series. In some cases the actors interact with the dogs probably unscripted, in fact, to be fair the dogs are quite good little actors and take it all in their stride.
The reactions of residents to these dogs varies widely depending on the areas where people live. Some see them as a nuisance and will avoid them at all costs, some residents actually look after them. Leaving food and water out and in some cases making them some sort of shelter which is needed in winter. The favoured ones while not living inside the resident’s properties live like kings and waddle like ducks with all the food. In winter shopping malls open their doors for them to shelter from the cold weather.
Turkey is slightly different from other countries in respects of stray dogs. In Turkey, they don’t tend to hang around in packs like other countries. Mostly the dogs are individuals who tolerate each other in close proximity as good neighbours. There are very few cases of rabies too and has even declined over recent years which is astonishing and mostly I feel down to a dog’s favourable behaviour towards humans rather than a vaccination program which is nowhere near extensive enough.
In the forested area’s of Istanbul, there are plenty of dogs roaming and there had been talk of the government wanting to round up the city dogs and move them to these forested area’s. There are groups that look after the street dogs welfare and spay and neuter them give them vaccines and even tag them. I can imagine that that would be a huge undertaking but the most humane thing to do.
The dog’s interaction with people is either very friendly or they don’t care in the least. Such characters. You would imagine that maybe there could be some incidents of attacks towards people but they are actually quite rare. These dogs have always been street dogs so apart from being territorial with other dogs they are used to people being around them, and dogs are not stupid, never bite the hand that feeds you.
In an amazing initiative, there are self-service feeding stations for dogs. When a member of the public recycles something then water and food are dispensed for the dogs. I love this idea.
I hope that the government will help more with funding to get all the street dogs vaccinated, neutered and tagged. I don’t for one wish to see these dogs rounded up and moved, they are part of the countries charm and loved by local residents and tourists alike.
Written by: Rachel Labidi
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