Dogs stuck in Istanbul airport for twelve days

Dogs stuck in Istanbul airport for twelve days

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Dogs stuck in Istanbul airport for twelve days

Two of the dogs, which were kept in cages at the airport for 12 days, died, according to a company executive. AA photo

Some 20 dogs sent from Saudi Arabia to a Turkish private security firm have been held up in customs. The dogs, which were transferred to be trained to assist with bombs, mines, narcotics, and search and rescue activities, were kept at Istanbul Atatürk Airport’s customs section for 12 days. Two of the dogs died due to the poor conditions of the cages they were kept in, while the remaining ones were sent back to Saudi Arabia after a long struggle and without taking the required measures for their health.

Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News, K9 Security Firm Director General and K9 police and military dog trainer Göktan Eker said they had been in contact with the firm owning the dogs since the beginning of the year.

“They asked me to train the dogs. We told them they must firstly complete the required documents for that but the firm authorities shipped them without carrying out a rabies test though it is stated on the list,” Eker said, adding that they coincidentally learned the news three days after the dogs reached the airport.

“We learned that the dogs came thanks to the sensitivity of one friend working in the customs. After taking the required documents, we headed to the Agriculture Ministry. We told them that the sender firm sent the missing documents and demanded that the dogs be transferred to a place where they could be cared for,” Eker said.

“With a verbal permission, we took them out of the cages. Within this period, we conveyed to the cargo unit of Turkish Airlines our demand for the return of the dogs due to the missing documents. We submitted rabies documents to the Provincial Directorate of Agriculture. They said the analyses conducted did not comply with the regulations, while 11 analyses were wrong and thus they could not be sent back. Also, they demanded pet licenses from us for the bomb dogs,” he added.

7,000 euros demanded from firm

Eker said during the period when the dogs were kept in customs, no doctor from official institutions was in contact with them except for the controls on documents.

“A doctor we found from a private clinic with the help of the Turkish Airlines’ depot officers examined the dogs that were under stress. It was diagnosed that the health of the dogs was deteriorating both physically and psychologically due to the poor conditions they were in,” he said.

Eker also said 7,000 euro was demanded from them for the return of the dogs. “We already told them that we suffered a great loss and could not pay this account.”

Meanwhile, an animal rights supporter who works in this unit saw that the dead dogs were taken away by municipality units. Also, data on the latest condition of the dogs was shared on social media, stirring protests from animal rights defenders.