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Dogs looking for friends

IBAN NL62INGB0004011891 BIC / SWIFT-Code: INGBNL2A ING Bank-Amsterdam. ActieZwerfhonden Zonnemaire The Netherlands

The forest shelter

updt.13-1-17  scroll down
The forest shelter first started in 1998.

It’s a piece of enclosed terrain in a large forest, belonging to the municipality and bordering a former garbage belt. There were hundreds and hundreds of dogs living on this garbage belt, more then a 1000 dogs total. When the garbage belt was closed down, these dogs were at danger of starving to death. The authorities were afraid that the dogs would find their way into the bordering residential area’s and would cause diseases and accidents. So, to solve this “problem” they started to massacre the dogs that were surviving at the garbage belt. This is when the SHKD decided to rent the terrain from the municipality and to build a fence around it. Today, the dogs are being fed and well taken care of.

The S.H.K.D. had 2 locations to shelter the dogs. One shelter in Gokturk and the forest shelter in Eyup. The Gokturk shelter was
build and equipped according to West-European standards. Because of a residential area that was going to be build there, the shelter in Gokturk had to close. There was no money to build a new shelter at a different location.

It was the intention of the SHKD to catch, neuter, vaccinate and release the stray dogs again into their original neighbourhood. In most cases however, it wasn’t safe to release the dogs again. This caused for the shelter to become overcrowded. By rehoming many of the dogs, to mostly Germany and The Netherlands, the number of dogs that remain in the shelter has decreased quite
a bit.

With our “Dogs looking for Friends” campaign, we are trying to secure the (financial) care for the dogs that will have to remain in the forest shelter permanently.

Current Situation (January 2005)

The forest shelter is a 85.000 square metres terrain, that’s divided in 38 separate partitions. There are 8 employees working for the SHKD namely, 1 veterinarian, 1 trained dogcatcher, 1 chauffeur, 3 caregivers and 2 night guards.

The adult dogs are being fed once a day, dry kibble and bread soaked in chickenbroth.

Through our “Dogs looking for Friends” campaign we try to financially support the care of the dogs that will have to remain in the forest shelter.


The dogs that cannot be re-homed, amongst them the dogs of the ‘Friends Project’ , will be able to spend their days at the forest shelter peacefully.
S.H.K.D. does not have much faith in the city council’s attempts to neuter all stray dogs to solve the stray dogs issue.

However, the animal rights activists in Istanbul are working on it; there are plans to start up a new organization that will have the knowledge to advise city councils on their policies and actions.

On october
15 and 16 2006, Linda has visited the forest asylum.

Most dogs there are doing just fine. The asylum has big and some small partitions. The small partitions are inhabited by dogs that will be replaced and are awaiting transport. Also, dogs that are temporarily being kept apart for health reasons inhabit these small partitions.

Eventually, doors will be made in the surrounding fences. It is the intention for the dogs to be able to enter the woods during day time and come back during night time for food and “monitoring”.

visited the forest shelter again on 4 August 2007.

The shelter and the dogs are looking good. About 80 dogs are no longer in kennels or partitioned off areas, but can move around freely. The dogs stay near the shelter, and all come back around dinner time.

Almost all the dogs that are part of the friend project live in very spacious partitiond off areas. They are happy.


November 2009

Last week the forest department visited the forest shelter and ordered an evacuation because there were complaints from local residents.

I talked to Murat Bekhan, the manager of the shelter, frequently on the phone during recent days and he is not giving in easily and is doing everythingneeded to appeal against the warrant.  Whether this will be successful is unsure.  We are also looking for a new place to relocate the shelter.
On the Internet rumors are that the dogs will be left behind without any care. Murat has assured me that this will not happen.
However, they are trying their best to re-home the dogs that are suitable.

When there is more news I will inform you.

December 2009

The problems have been solved. The dogs are safe and looked after!

forest shelter Septemer 2010

At the moment there are hundreds of dogs in and around the forest shelter, but as winter approaches more and more dogs will come to beg for food.

In the kennels there are also some 20 dogs from Sisli. The Sisli dogs are kept in the forest shelter temporarily until their new home in Sisli is built. The Sisli council also uses the ‘operating room’ at the forest shelter to spay and neuter dogs from town. After having recovered for a few days these dogs will be released back into their original habitat.

Some (most) of the dogs around the shelter have been dumped by employees of the council shelter of Hasdal, which is next to the forest shelter.

Google earth forest shelter SHKD

41° 8’19.74″N
Longitude: 28°56’16.27″O


Update December 2010

In the last week of December all dogs at the forest shelter have been dewormed and treated against ticks and fleas. Former employee of the SHKD Banu Erguder helped with the work. As you can see, not all dogs seem to realize that it is in their best


update June 28th. 2012

In the beginning of May, all our dogs were vaccinated for rabies and treated for parasites.     Since our shelter is located in the forest we usually have a big parasites problem in summer. We hope the  extensive treatment we made will protect our dogs from parasites this summer.

It seems it will be a very hot summer this year. Even in June we are having temperatures as high as 30 degrees C. which is not very common in Istanbul in this month. Thank God our forest shelter has naturally shaded areas where our dogs can rest in cool.

One of the friends’ dogs, Chase was found dead, on June 14 early in the  morning although he looked fine the day before and ate his dinner quite well. He was very old so we regard it as a natural death, a quiet  passage to eternal peace. We are happy that he didn’t suffer at all.

All the other dogs are fine. They are enjoying the sun and shade as they wish.

Updt. 11-09-12

Banu, former employee of the SHKD, visited the forest shelter on October 18. She wrote that most dogs are in good condition and she returned home feeling good about the situation.

Here are the photo’s she took while she was in the forest shelter:

Update february 2

The dogs of the Forest shelter are being well taken care of, thanks to your and our support. They are not only getting enough food, but the medical treatment is of high quality for a shelter of this format (2000 dogs)

All dogs are vaccinated against rabies, de-wormed and treated for ticks and fleas every year in May. Traditionally, as many volunteers as possible round up to tackle this enormous task.

This year the StraydogsCampaign Foundation was able to finance this treatment. Of course, we could not have done this without your help and loyal support.

In general, only the pups receive a cocktail of vaccinations as they are the most sensitive for the virus the vaccinations attacks.

This year we are dealing with a new variety of rabies, which is also claiming victims amongst the older dogs. Thanks to a huge donation of one of our donors, we were able to react immediately and managed to vaccinate all dogs!

Juli 2014

And again there are problems with the forest department and again the shelter management is fighting for the future of the forest shelter.

March 2015

Our volunteer Jacobien visited the forest shelter on March 22. Following the links below you can watch the films she made that really give a good impression of the forest shelter, the spacious partitions, the love of the care takers and the friendliness of most of the dogs

Want to eat some chunks, there are enough feeding places to prevent the dogs from fighting


Using the money of your donations, we are currently building a new kennel of 2000 square meters. This kennel will be used for the dogs who are now living in the small kennels at the entrance of the shelter. This way they will have more space to run, or to withdraw themselves if they choose to. This was a long-time dream, though we never had the money. But when Murat found a donor for food and medicine, we could spend a part of the friends and pellet donations on building this new kennel.

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upd. 11-7-2016

As we informed you earlier, there is a persistent case of Demodex amongst some of the dogs in the forest shelter. This is an infestation of the dog’s skin with a biting mite. As it causes a lot of itching the dogs often scratch until they bleed, causing infections. As opposed to scabies, Demodex is not contagious

When Aysen, one of the Bolukbas-sisters who volunteers in the shelter for a few weeks every summer, was confronted with Demodex this summer she was determined to find a medicine we did not yet try in order to cure the dogs

She bought a large quantity of the medicine she once used to treat one of her own dogs suffering from Demodex. The past few days she visited the shelter to bring by the medicine and teach the caretakers how to use it. The dogs have to be treated with cream and oil twice a day during a long period, and they will also receive vitamins. This means more work for the shelter’s staff

Luckily, there are only 10 dogs with Demodex. Some other dogs also have a bad skin, but that seems to be something else. Those dogs are being examined, but we think it could be a flea allergy

Aysen, you are the best! We are keeping our fingers crossed hoping this helps.

toediening-van-vitaminen-door-turqay-1 behandeling-met-demodex-oil

January 5, 2017

It’s a small miracle; the dogs suffering from Demodex are doing great!

January 10, 2017 Winter in the Forest shelter

For the past three days, it has been snowing non-stop in Istanbul. The whole city came to a stop. Luckily, two dedicated volunteers managed to reach the Forest shelter. There is sufficient food for the dogs and there are enough kennels for shelter.

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