Forced relocation of stray dogs in Istanbul angers animal rights activists
The municipality in the Istanbul district of Eyüp has allegedly shot over 100 stray dogs with tranquilizer guns and loaded them into cars to put them elsewhere, stirring the anger of animal rights activists.
“Eyüp Municipality has captured over a 100 dogs, most of them already neutered, claiming to bring them to the Kısırkaya Shelter. While some of the dogs arrived at the shelter, many have disappeared,” said Animals Rights Confederation (HAYKONFED) member Nihal Aydın in a written statement on behalf of the federation on Oct. 25.
“After locals filed a number of complaints to the municipality regarding the rapid increase of stray animals, government personnel shoot the animals with tranquilizers to catch them and then dump them in other regions or forests,” Aydın added.
Selin Boronkay, animal rights activist and resident of Eyüp’s Göktürk neighborhood, claimed that the dogs were collected in five cars on Oct. 24 but two of the vehicles never reached the shelter. Boronkay said those dogs are still missing, while other dogs, mostly sick and elderly, died after being illegally shot with tranquilizers.
Some animal rights supporters have provided videos showing activists trying to prevent municipality workers from throwing the stationary animals into cars.
Eyüp Deputy Mayor Ahmet Turan Koçer said the operation was carried out “for the benefit of the animals.”
“Our animals are hungry and thirsty, sometimes harmed or abused, and abandoned to the harsh reality of the streets. Their mental health naturally deteriorates,” Koçer said on Oct. 25.
He added that the dogs were released to their “natural habitat” only after receiving “loving and compassionate care” appropriate to their needs.
The municipality issued an official statement denying the accusations.
“Only 29 dogs have been collected for vaccination renewals and neutering procedures,” it said. These animals were taken to the Kısırkaya Shelter in Sarıyer, daily Hürriyet learned on Oct. 25.
Aydın, however, dismisses these claims, saying the municipality is not neutering dogs but “dumping” them in forests, thus explaining the increasing number of strays in forest areas.