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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Turkish Stray Dogs

On my homepage for the past year, I've featured a link to the Stray Dogs Campaign Foundation (SDC Foundation) which is a supportive fund and awareness raising organization for stray dogs issues such as one in Turkey known as Sahipsiz Hayvanları Koruma Derneği (SHKD, or, Society for the Protection of Stray Animals). It's long been about time to write about the Turkish stray dogs issue here.

Be forwarned. The photos and reports on this link are disturbing and quite graphic. They show abuse, poisoning, mismanagement and professional corruption even among some veterinarians and some Turkish government officials who are entrusted local issues pertaining to the enormous stray dogs problem of Turkey. To really grasp the size and context of the issues, you'd have to see these reports.

As with all animal care organizations, Foundation (SKHD) needs money to carry out their programs. Turkish shelters and veterinary facilities often have little to no funding and few regular custodians able to care for the massive numbers of stray dogs.

If you'd like to donate or to buy items that support their cause, visit their support page.
(I'm sorry, some old links in this posting from 2006 no longer exist due to the changes on other web sites.)


A little about the Stray Dogs Campaign Foundation information from their own pages:-

The SDC Foundation:

Started in 2003 as a private initiative by Mrs. Linda Taal, it now has resulted in the StrayDogsCampaign Foundation, founded on April 16th, 2005.

The aim of the StrayDogsCampaign Foundation, as is established in the articles of association, is:

  1. collecting money for organisations that dedicate themselves to the cause of solving the stray dog situation in the urban area's of second and third world countries by means of Catch, Neuter and Release.

  2. developing all sorts of activities that are related to the above in the broadest sense.

Considering the huge scale of the problems, at this point in time the Stray Dogs Campaign Foundation focuses solely on the situation in Turkey.


In Turkey, stray dogs in the cities have been ubiquitous for as long as people can remember. They were part of a sort of accepted ecosystem, cleaning up the edible refuse that humans left at the dumps, accepting food left out for the dogs to eat, or given handouts from the back of restaurants and homes. Some of the dogs could be quite tame and friendly, others quite skittish. See a 2003 Article about SHKD at MyMerhaba (THIS link may load veeeeery slowly but gives a good background).

The situation now has taken on new dimensions as more people move up in life, leisure and think they would like to keep a pet. When the pet doesn't work out, often they are just released so that the neighborhood can provide support for the dog. Of course, this increases the numbers and diversity in types of strays that go on to reproduce.

For the Turkish situation, it seems to work best if stray dogs are captured, neutered, then returned to where they live so that they can at least continue to live in relative cleanliness rather than in overfilled, high maintenance cages where there is higher risk of disease and too few volunteers or officials, and available food to care for them. It is more cost effective than maintaining shelters. The continuous neutering of stray dogs is believed to have effect in helping with some control of the overpopulation program.

Another program in Turkey is FETHİYE HAYVAN DOSTLARI DERNEĞİ (FHDD) which has a website. "Fethiye Friends of Animals Association" states on it's pages:
[Our] aims are to care for stray dogs and cats by implementing a Neuter and Return program, which is a humane no-kill method that eventually reduces the number of strays that are endemic in most Mediterranean countries to acceptable levels. This then results in a harmonious attitude between the local population and the animals."
Progress in Turkey?

Linda Taal of the SDC Foundation has written me that the Turkish government has accepted a new animal welfare bill, the contents of which bill sound pretty good. Here quoted, is the bill:
It is a principle that the owners of cats and dogs being fed and accommodated in communal areas are expected to have them sterilised in order to prevent uncontrolled reproduction. Furthermore, those who wish to breed from the said animals must register all young animals born and are responsible for their care and/or distribution.

Those who sell domestic animals and pets are obliged to take part in certified training programmes arranged by the local authorities in relation to the care and protection of these animals.

Those who produce and trade in domestic pets are obliged to take precautions in relation to necessary anatomic, physiological and behavioural characteristics in order not to endanger the health of pet owners, the mother selected for reproduction or her young.
Linda continues, "However the bill its not implemented. Even with all possible law to refer to, municipalities go on poisoning and killing, people go on breeding and dumping."

Furthermore, according to the FHDD's website:
The Turkish Government has not passed the necessary Animal Protection laws that will in future forbid local authorities from the indiscriminate poisoning of stray animals. Our message to these authorities is that there is an alternative now available to them – the adoption of a Neuter and Return program.
Changes for the better? ...or not? ---

There are Turkish dog enthusiasts who are attempting to get a Turkish Kennel Club started in Turkey and would like to have the club recognized by Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI). In the United States, the AKC is our equivalent kennel club, in the United Kingdom, it is The Kennel Club. Australia, New Zealand also have theirs. The FCI serves the rest of the world. These major clubs accept registration papers between each of their registering bodies.

FCI is an organization that is in some ways a purebred dog enthusiast's metaphor to the United Nations, but primarily deals with the regulations regarding breed standards, competitions, as well as compliant record keeping methods in member countries (FCI is not a registry). Only one dog club in each accepted country can be a member club under the FCI and they must abide these regulations and keep registration paperwork in order. Many countries as yet, including Turkey, do not have a national dog club or registry. Often this is due to cultural issues, priorities or tradition with regard to attitudes toward dogs or general affluence or its lack. (note: I'm sure any ingrained dog enthusiast will mention, some even if not pressed, that the bureacracy in many dog clubs doesn't exactly represent the epitome of civilization!)

One advantage of there being an acceptible registry in Turkey would be that Turkish Dog enthusiasts like myself would be able to get registered dogs directly from Turkey which qualify to be AKC registered. This would enhance the biodiversity and genetic health of our dogs. Recognition of Turkish dogs without going through the maddening process we currently endure would be wonderful! But at what cost for the other dogs in Turkey? The principle movers and shakers in this pursuit are indeed Turkish enthusiasts for the big dogs such as the Kangal and the Akbash dog.

Is Turkey ready for a Kennel Club? Would this create more problems for stray dogs, for small and larger purebred dogs? Would it be a good idea for FCI to recognize a Turkish Kennel Club? Some feel that with more official regulations there may be improvement in the dog situation. But you have to wonder... if Turkey is not enforcing the rules they already have, and do not penalize their own government and animal care officials for mass poisonings, shootings and abuse of stray dogs, what happens then?

If you have an opinion on this matter and want to write to the FCI and let them know your opinion:

Address for FCI
Federation Cynologique Internationale
Place Albert 1er, 13
B-6530 THUIN
BELGIQUE

More reading on Stray dogs of Turkey:


UPDATE AUG 2, 2006
China is an FCI country, yet their method of handling their rabies problem by violent public beatings of the dogs is just totally unacceptably barbaric.

www.cnn.com Report on China's Dogs and Rabies

With that sort of background and China not losing it's FCI affiliation, what can we hope for Turkey? :(

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 4/23/2006 11:56:00 PM | Permanent link | (2) Comments

Blogger silent bibo sent us a woof // April 28, 2006

in Taiwan,we also have stary dogs problem.Taiwan's volunteers has been looking for support from overseas.expect to adopt the dogs,I don't know what can I do.... :-(   

Blogger Semavi Lady sent us a woof // April 30, 2006

I think all countries have a stray dog problem, however most countries do not have to worry about government employees indiscriminantly extermination of dogs on one's own street. This doesn't happen everywhere in Turkey, but it does happen.

See Turkish News...

from above:
"Until recently it was common practice for municipalities, including those run by pro-secular parties, to poison strays with strychnine-laced meat or to shoot them dead. With pet ownership spreading among middle-class Turks, pressure has been mounting on authorities to treat animals more humanely"

This is the crux of the matter. External pressure which prevents the International (FCI) acceptance of the Turkish national breeds, until Turkish municipalities cease this abuse, may be the best way to motivate Turkish government to stop this abuse by their own employees.   

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