Ten Years of Neutering and Spaying Street Cats and Dogs in Turkey
Who are we?Two English tourists, Aidan and Jackie, who visited Kusadasi, Turkey, for a week’s holiday in October 1996 and were horrified by what we saw. Cats, kittens and dogs were starving on the streets. Injured and dead animals lay in the gutter. Only the few remaining tourists seemed to care. When we asked locals about them we were told not to worry, when the tourists finally left the street animals would all be poisoned. We were horrified.
What did we do?
As soon as we returned home we contacted all the large national and international animal charities we knew. Only one helped, the World Society for the Protection of Animals, who offered to find us a well qualified vet in Kusadasi if we could organise someone to work with the animals.
It had to be us.
Our first trip, with two cat carriers, two traps given by our local RSPCA branch and a crush cage and some funding from our local cat Protection, plus everything we had managed to save ourselves, was in Summer 1997. It was a difficult trip. We had nowhere to keep the animals while they recovered, except in the cages in a terrible ‘dog shelter’ and we met a great deal of animosity from many local people. However, we did meet some caring Turkish people, our vet was wonderful and charged us the absolute minimum, and we made two contacts who have stayed with us for the whole ten years – an English woman and a German woman who helped us catch the animals.On returning home, Aidan wrote to his local paper asking for unwanted cat and dog medications, veterinary instruments, blankets and towels, and thanks to one respondent we made our most important and enduring relationship of the project with the Animal Protection Trust, who have supported our trips ever since, even donating an animal ambulance which has proved a huge benefit in transporting dogs and travelling further afield to work.
We have made an average of two trips a year, usually of a month or six weeks duration. Latterly, Jackie has stayed at home raising funds with the help of friends and Aidan has done the field work in Turkey.
We have received help from Prevent Unwanted Pets (Nottingham), a one-off grant from the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA) and two grants from the Marchig Trust for Animal Welfare, all very helpful and much appreciated.
We have had veterinary nurses and a vet travel out with Aidan to work with our Turkish vets on two trips.
What have we achieved?
The local municipality in Kusadasi has, after much lobbying by us and our supporters, stopped poisoning street animals and has improved the dog shelter which a German charity is now monitoring.
We have provided veterinary treatment for many hundreds of injured animals, including the odd pigeon and tortoise! And where an animal has been injured beyond saving, we have paid the vet to give it a swift, painless death.
We have helped tourists through the bureaucratic hurdles to bring back to this country dogs and cats with whom they fell in love, and we have printed leaflets in Turkish to educate Turkish children and adults on kindness to animals and humane animal control. We have even managed to find loving homes for some kittens and puppies.We have also made contact with several other groups in other parts of Turkey who do similar work, with whom we share knowledge and experience.
What are our priorities now?
We want the Turkish people to take responsibility for this work in the long term and we are building networks in Turkey towards that end. However, the economic situation in Turkey is very difficult with rampaging inflation, so few people there have money to spend on animals. None the less, we receive a lot of practical help, catching and nursing animals, which is a step forward.
Would you like to know more?
You can e-mail us on: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and copies of our snip-trip reports. We’d love to hear from you.