World Stray Animals Day: Thoughts on Street Animals in Turkey
Today, April 4th, is World Stray Animals Day, and in honor of that, I'm taking a step back from our normal lighthearted content to talk about an issue that is really very near to my heart.
Street Animals in Turkey
Before I get to far into my post, I wanted to paint a clearer picture of what I mean by street animals in Turkey, because it's vastly different from what you will see in most Western countries (at least the ones I've visited).
Here in Turkey, even in the most densely populated cities, you won't walk more than 2 blocks or visit any public park without seeing a cat or dog (if not several) with no collar and/or a chipped ear. These homeless animals consist of both second generation street animals and abandoned pets who are allowed to live out their lives on the city streets.
Catch and Release
Turkey has program in place to attempt to control the population of street animals. Each city and its local municipalities are to catch, tag, and sterilize stray animals before releasing them back into the neighborhood where they were found.
They are also charged with caring for sick and wounded street animals. These animals too are put back on the streets once they are deemed to be in good health.
Coexisting with Street Animals
Many people in our city love and feed these animals. I won't lie, there's nothing like being greeted by all of your four-legged neighbors when you go for your morning walk. They add an endearing quality to the city. And I have seen some pretty heartwarming examples of kindness shown to these animals:
There's a woman who goes to the park with dog food every morning, rain or shine, at 6:45am to feed all of the animals there.
There's a butcher shop a block away from our home that always feeds bones and scraps to the local cats and dogs.
The city has programs to build cat shelters and leaves out dishes to encourage people to feed and water strays in those areas. They also have an animal ambulance for sick our wounded animals (but there's a catch, more on that later).
But a large number of people also dislike and/or fear them. Culturally and religiously, cleanliness is extremely important, and dogs in particular are seen as dirty animals.