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Dogs looking for friends

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

A journalist went to Istanbul 2006

Streets of Istanbul are covered with dead stray dogs. by Fidan Ekiz

They are being poisoned, hunted down, injected with drugs, ran over and killed. Turkey has an estimated stray dog population of 300.000 dogs and especially in Istanbul the stray dog problem is growing rapidly.

(From our correspondent Fidan Ekiz)

Istanbul (GPD).

From a short distance, a group of children is watching a Shepard dog, foam at the mouth, lying at the middle of the street. The animal is breathing heavily, his tongue hanging from his mouth, his eyes half closed. “Would he die”, the children are whispering. Only a few seconds later a grey van arrives. Four men jump out. “Nothing going on. We’re from the municipality. This animal is ill. We’re going to take him to the municipality shelter” one of the men calls to a local resident. A man protests. He knows that bringing the animal to the municipality shelter only means a stay of execution.
Istanbul has 33 municipality shelters at the moment. They are all overpopulated and the care is minimal. Even a healthy dog has a maximum survival duration of one week in such a shelter. The pups that are being born in a municipality shelter usually die within 10 days.
But especially the stray dogs fare badly. They often are dirty and unhealthy and that is why they are not beloved by the Turkish people.
Earlier this year Turkey adopted an animal protection law which states that the municipalities are obligated to spay/neuter and to take care of the stray dogs.
“Great, but this law is not being observed”, says Banu Ergüder, who is making an effort for the stray dogs in Istanbul, eversince 1983. “The municipalities should spay/neuter the stray dogs and return them to the place where they were captured but this doesn’t happen. The dogs are imprisoned and for most dogs this turns out badly.” According to Ergüder some municipalities, with a dense stray dog population, even spread meatballs at night which are injected with poison. The next day the streets are covered with dead dogs. “This still happens”, Ergüder says. “But now we see more and more often that they supposedly come to catch the dogs to bring them to the shelter. But what the people do not know, is that the animals are killed at the spot instead of being anaesthetised.” Injections with an anaesthetic are more costly than injections with a lethal poison, is what Ergüder thinks.
Ergüder is making efforts, together with the StraydogsCampaign in Rotterdam, to help 2 Turkish women, who are trying to help the stray dogs of Istanbul. Cemile and Nilüfer are living for years already with and among the dogs on a fallow terrain in Atakoy. Long after the evening has set in, Nilüfer is still hard at work. The terrain where the dogs live is very poorly lit and fenced in by rusty bars. The sound of hundreds of dogs barking, is deafening but it doesn’t seem to bother Nilüfer. The 52 year old woman climbs smoothly over the fence, wearing jackboots. “Today we’re lucky. A restaurant sent 50 kilo’s of chicken and bones,” Nilüfer says. She is very happy with this gift. ” Every day again I wonder how to feed them.” All 300 dogs that Nilüfer is protecting from the municipality are either neutered or spayed. For the medical expenses she can sometimes count on the help of a few animalfriends. Electricity or running water are not available. “These animals are my everything, but sometimes I do have regrets. It is a never-ending story, “Nilüfer says. But both Nilüfer and Cemile are afraid of releasing the dogs as long as they are not safe from the municipality.
But yet, there is a solution: in de city of Fethiyye is an organisation which tries to start a mobile sterilisation clinic. If more municipalities would cooperate in this project and then would leave the spayed/neutered dogs alone, the stray dog problem could be solved within 3 till 5 years. “The Turkish people are afraid of dogs and they think they are filthy”, according to Nilüfer. “Their fear for Rabies is largely unjust since it is really not that bad. It is important that the Turkish people will be informed much better so that the animalwelfare organisations can do their work. Until that time, I will never leave my dogs to their faith. I will take care of them till my dying day,” Nilüfer says.