RIGHTS > Animal law protested

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News

Thousands hit the streets against a controversial law draft, which regulates protection of animals such as authorizing the removal of all stray animals from the streets

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Animal activists march on İstiklal Street to protest a draft law on animal rights. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIK

Animal activists march on İstiklal Street to protest a draft law on animal rights. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIK

Erdem Güneş Erdem Güneş erdem.gunes@hdn.com.tr

Thousands of animal rights activists gathered in Istanbul’s Taksim Square yesterday to protest a proposed amendment to the protection of animals law. “We do not want a murder law” was the main slogan chanted by the protesters.

The new draft, which is slated to be discussed in Parliament before the end of October, authorizes the removal of all stray animals from the streets, limits the number of pets permitted in homes, and recommends the termination of “dangerous” breeds. Activists fear the regulation will lead to the mass killing of cats and dogs, regardless of whether they are pets or strays.

Asude Ustaoğlu, head of HAYV!ST (the Animal Rights Activists Association) said the proposed amendment to Law no. 5199 carried the risk of mass killings and the malnourishment of stray animals and pets.

“The new law amendment introduces ‘natural life parks,’ presented in a charming way and telling us that stray animals will live happily there. But cats and dogs are tamed animals. They have been living in the same places as people for thousands of years. Locking pets in parks will turn into killing them. That’s why this law proposal is a murder law,” she told the Daily News.

Melek Gence, an activist who was wearing a t-shirt bearing the slogan “No to Nazism against animals,” said she feared losing two of her four cats if the law was passed.

“The present law already tells me to move from my flat in case I disturb the neighbors. Isn’t that enough for the government, why do I have to give up my kids?” she said while holding her 10-month old Persian cat “the King,” in her arms.

The law draft also mandates that the breed and the number of pets in houses should be determined by Forestry Ministry regulations considering the ethological needs of their species, their health and the health and safety of people, other animals and the environment. This article causes significant doubts among animal lovers.

A common declaration was issued by the groups attending the protest, calling on the government to “correct the murder law” and introducing a new law guaranteeing animals’ right to life.

The government amendment also contains the term “guinea pig,” and activists particularly object to this article. “The article opens the way to violence against animals simply through an ‘experimental animal’ certificate,” their declaration said.

According to the draft law, stray animals will be relocated to “natural parks” after being spayed or neutered. Activists are concerned about this part of the regulation, and have started an open petition against it. They have the support of the Istanbul Bar Association’s animal rights committee.Main opposition Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) Istanbul deputy Melda Onur also attended the protest. She said animal lovers had done their share and that now it was Ankara’s turn to withdraw the amendment. After marching down İstiklal Street, the crowd remained in Taksim Square for over two hours, singing songs, chanting slogans and dancing.

Meanwhile, more than a hundred writers including Elif Şafak, Latife Tekin and Leylâ Erbil supported the protests and signed a petition addressed to the Turkish president, prime minister and Parliament speaker.


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Notice on comments

Pants Pants

10/3/2012 11:36:07 AM

... my kids can't ride their bikes without getting attached or scared by stray (and pet) dogs. I can't go for a run without being intimidated by packs of stray dogs... Solution: all pets to have collars - no collar take them away neuter them..I love dogs but that's enough! Tag or dna them, owner certificates, fine the owners for allowing them to mess or roam the streets or if they are not neutered. "Natural park" is probably not the solution. Care for them or get rid of them....

Pants Pants

10/3/2012 11:27:42 AM

The problem is the people..... and the system. People leave their dogs outside barking all night. They let their cats breed multiple times without neutering them. They let their dogs foul the streets without shame. They don't walk or exercise their dogs. Just plain ignorance. They are allowed to do this without penalty which creates the mess and masses of strays. People feed cats and dogs in their summer homes and then leave for the winter leaving them behind to further populate.....

Blue Dotterel

10/3/2012 9:30:36 AM

@Jane, The AKP is not about Islam, it is about money. It is a corporatist party and Mammon is the primary God. Religion is for PR and winning votes from the gullible (same as the US).

jane lewis

10/1/2012 3:27:46 PM

Has PM Erdogan lost his faith? Is he not aware that the Quran (6:38) tells us to treat animals with compassion and not to abuse them? The Prophet, himself, had a beloved cat Mu'izza and in fact his life was saved by a cat when he was endanged by a snake. If we fast-forward this to the present, Istanbul is relatively rodent-free because of its large family of protective cats. The Encyclopedia of the Qur'an states that verse 6:38 has been "far-reaching in its moral and ecological implications."

jane lewis

10/1/2012 1:33:09 PM

First a shopping center on Istiklal. Then outside tables are removed where neighbors congregate. Then on-going building of skyscrapers are destroying the magnificent skyline that defines Istanbul. Then real neighborhoods like Tarlabasi are being "gentrified and those who have lived there for generations are"relocated" Now the cats and dogs of Istanbul who are true Istanbul"lus are threatened with extinction. If this Amendment passes, Istanbul will have irretrievably lost its soul.


10/1/2012 12:37:13 PM

What did I noticed the last five years: 9.9 out of 10 Turks are afraid of dogs. Some people take a (stray)dog or cat for the summer holiday and leave it alone when leaving home. Also our dog was "treated" by a (lawyer)family and they left the poor chap behind. We cared for him and let him castrated. He gets his injections every year and also his pills. Look at him now: what a wonderful dog he is! That's the way you treat animals and not by poisoning them! They are also creatures of God or not?

Jeff Howison

10/1/2012 11:49:20 AM

Leave the dogs and cats alone. They bring life and joy to the city. The only animals that should be removed from Istanbul are the vile pigeons. They are simply rats with wings, disgusting and filthy vermin.

Brit in Turkey

10/1/2012 10:00:35 AM

Where I live the stray cats and dogs are a real nuisance. Might I also suggest that the owners of dogs who 1) let them foul the pavements and 2) let them bark without any attempt to keep them quiet be 'relocated to “natural parks”''.

Brian Irlanda

10/1/2012 8:39:42 AM

It would be a pity to bring in such laws. Istanbul is unique in the relationship between the people and the cats and dogs living on the streets. They are the most well cared for strays in the world and the people love them. It would change the character of Istanbul for the worse. Also as someone who has travelled the world I have noted that unlike other cities you do not see many rats and mice running around the streets at night thanks to our feline friends. They keep the vermin under control!

Red Tail

10/1/2012 8:11:51 AM

The process of removing the stray dogs is certainly not a nice one. But IMHO Istanbul would be a nicer town without the dogs. They leave their "things" on the side walk. The occassionally attack kids or joggers, and they spread deceases. And they theymselves also suffer. During the summer from dehydration and during the winter from the cold.
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