Until now, the norm in Turkey is for municipalities to spayed and neuter animals and return them to the streets. Often the dogs and cats become part of the neighborhood and are taken care of by local residents who feed and take care of them. In fact, during the evenings one can often see elderly people roaming around checking on how the animals are doing.
|If life was only for humans what were|
animals doing on Noah's Ark
In addition to the forced gathering of the animals, activists are worried about plans by the government to limit how many pets one can own, and the forced killing of certain breeds of dogs considered a danger to the public, such as pit bulls. In addition, sick stray animals currently in shelters, such as Istanbul Greater Municipality's Hasdal shelter, are rumored as experiencing serious neglect and sentenced to slow death due to the poor conditions; in other words, the activists' mistrust is based on the track record of local governments to care for the animals. For more on the law, you can read two articles: one from Hurriyet Daily News, and the other appearing after today\s demonstration in Todays Zaman (both in English).
|No to the Law of Death!|
Lastly, the activists retain in their collective memory the case in late Ottoman history when in 1910 dogs were rounded up and placed to die on islands close to the city. While this cruel project quickly came to an end,some local residents believed that the government's cruel treatment led to numerous catastrophes such as the Balkan wars as a divine payback (see important related article on this and the changes in the law).
The massive turnout today will place the government on the defensive and will challenge any future changes. It will also ensure that dogs, cats, and other animals, will have some sort of representation. What is for sure the change in the law will not go unnoticed and the demonstration today has sent a strong message that animal lovers also should have a voice in government policy.