WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO .. .
Visitors to Akyaka often
ask what happens in winter to the many street/beach dogs in the village be
assured that there are a number of concerned residents who watch over their
welfare (Thats US!) after the restaurants close and the damp winter sets in. We
are strong supporters of the Neuter & Release programme run by Fethiye Friends
of Animals Association which has not only the support of several European Animal
Associations but is increasingly supported here in Turkey. Of even more
significance is the new Animal Protection Law (legislation # 5199) that has been
passed through Parliament and is being implemented, albeit slowly, throughout
Stray dogs and cats are a real problem in Turkey and in holiday resorts, like
Akyaka there are additional factors. Where there are so many visitors, pensions
and restaurants open in summer months, our village becomes a place where
unwanted animals are 'dumped'.
Sometimes visitors from the big cities think that here somewhere dogs will get
food and at the end of family holiday there is no return home for the pet ... at
other times of the year, folk from surrounding villages bring half a dozen or
more dogs and just leave them - this latter group can play havoc with our
village chickens. In the past the local councils' traditional method was to put
down poison whenever the complaints grew loud. Poisoning is now against the law
but another cruel method has been used several times this year - the dogs are
rounded up and dumped in remote parts of the forest. Individuals (such as an
annoyed neighbour) have also taken dogs and in one case the dog was left 18 kms
away in a remote village. But there was a happy ending to this the dog came back
(we know not how!) in 3 days and was then hidden by us until a proper owner was
found! All this causes anger and anguish and a lot of chasing around, checking
up etc by true animal lovers. Foreign tourists are also shocked at such tales.
Until recently FHDD visited us for 2, 3 days twice a year and our small group of
local animal lovers would collect the dogs early in the day and bring them to
the mobile clinic parked outside the Council buildings where they were then
sterilised, vaccinated against rabies, 'wormed' and finally ear-tagged for our
records These clinics, which started in October 2001, and whose visits were
fully supported by our Council have brought changes in local attitudes of the
villagers and their children who previously were often fearful of stray dogs.
During these busy visits, passing school children would be fascinated by the
sight of 'sleeping dogs' laid out on rugs, tethered dogs awaiting the operation
and helpers tending the recovering patients! We had several children coming to
help and learn at first hand that 'neuter and release' is far better than
poisoning! Sometimes we’ve been able to arrange for local people to 'adopt' a
street dog and there are even a few kennels outside houses on the street which
give shelter from the sun in summer and rain in winter! People are far more
willing to feed the dogs now in winter months and are learning not to see them
as a threat. In summer months our street dogs lead a wonderful life as the
foreign tourists are their best friends and spoil them with 'treats' and
titbits. Sometimes you will even see a dog lying on a beach bed with the tourist
perched on the end!
Unfortunately this summer some of the local vets thought that the mobile clinics
were taking away work that should be theirs and have managed to stop FHDD from
coming . This has been a huge blow to us because few people would pay out high
fees for sterilising a street dog or cat that lived near them Some local vets
fortunately will operate at much reduced fees but special arrangements have to
be made and someone has to transport them.
For the past year we have had our Mayors permission to run a second-hand stall
in the weekly market and although this is quite a new concept in rural areas -
hand-me-downs usually stay within the families and excess clothing is not the
norm - we are attracting customers and foreign residents have been very generous
in donating goods to us. Of course it is a good meeting place to talk to
visitors about our work. We are not a charity, but we do welcome any donations
in the form of dog food and parasite tablets as proceeds from the stall are spent
on supplementary food in winter, vitamins, worm tablets, vet bills for accident
cases. But our main expenditure is for petrol and our petrol in Turkey is even
more expensive than in Europe! We have always made regular trips to Fethiye (180
kms round trip) to take bitches for sterilising or young puppies hoping for new
homes (FHDD is well known for its animal shelter and locals now know where to
find a dog needing an owner).
AND WHAT OF THE FUTURE?
We plan to try to persuade our own Council (Belediye) that street and beach dogs
well cared for by local people is far better than having an old-style animal
pound where dogs and bitches are crowded together living miserably in some
out-of-the-way part of the town where it takes courage for animal lovers to even
Marmaris dogpound run by its Municipality!
|What we need is an organised centre where stray dogs and cats
can be collected, sterilised, vaccinated, wormed, and rehabilitated
and then returned to the street from where they came. Only
aggressive, very old or sick animals should be held in the shelter.
We also need the council to support a local vet to make necessary
operations which would save so much money that at present we have to
spend on petrol. Such a centre with sterilisation facilities is
exactly what the new Animal Protection law asks from ALL
Municipalities so we must work hard to persuade our Belediye to
implement this!These two objectives are very much in line with FHDDs
plan for the future Turkey is a huge country and there are so many
places where animal welfare is low on the list of priorities so it
is important that in areas where local support is waiting for the
green ight, we let FHDD concentrate on pioneering work. Do take time to look on their
website and read the amazing newsletters which are compiled monthly.
FINALLY WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Many of Akyaka tourists come back year after year and follow the fortunes of
their canine friends. Some even arrange to take their favourite back to Europe
and several dogs now live in Germany or Holland. So .. we would like to present
to YOU some of our most lovable strays whom we know would make SOMEONE somewhere
a loyal friend. Do read their stories and if you decide you can help make one of
them happy in a new secure and loving home, please download the .pdf file which
tells you more about the movement of pets within EU countries and learn about
the necessary documentation and injections etc. And if you decide for one, we
would like to help you for the necessary documentation of whichever lucky dog
you choose. There are also some centres in Turkey where these arrangements can
be made for dogs travelling to new homes in mainland Europe.