For the love of dogs
A few years ago, I was walking around Netsel Marina in Marmaris, where the Marmaris Animal Friends Association was having a fundraising event for animals. I went up to my friend’s stall, to see what I could buy. As I looked around, this small, white bundle of fluff came out from under the table. Two large, soulful, brown eyes looked up at me. “Who’s this?” I said as I bent down to stroke the puppy. “She’s from the rehabilitation center. I’m taking care of her because she’s so young and she needs a home, how about yours?” I looked at her in disbelief and said “I’ve got a kitten.” “Ok,” she responded. “They can be mates!” At that point the puppy came up to me and stood up on her hind legs and waved her front paws at me. I looked at her and that was the moment my heart melted. I knew I could not walk away. “Ok, I’ll take her,” I said. My friend picked the dog up and gave me a hug and said, “I’ll pop round with things you need and give you some advice, don’t worry.” I have my spontaneous moments and this was one of them. I took the dog in my arms and put her in my large shopping basket and waved goodbye.
Over the years, life has improved for the Marmaris Municipality Animal Rehabilitation Center, which is located behind the bus garage in Marmaris. The Marmaris Animal Friends Association has done a lot of fundraising events during this time to support the center.
Bora Deveci is the veterinary doctor; they have three workers and a couple of volunteers from the association to assist them. Deveci would like to see more improvements at the center. The sad fact is that there are 400 dogs to look after. Why is this? Because people take the dogs and don’t realize that they are a responsibility and they are uninformed as to how to look after them. The dogs are taken when people visit their holiday homes and when they return, they leave the dogs on the street. Dogs have a life of 12 to 20 years, depending on the breed. Puppies are like babies and need a lot of attention and like to chew whatever comes their way – anything they can sink their teeth into. People don’t realize this and are not sure what to do, so the dogs are given to the rehabilitation center.
I spoke to Deveci regarding the abandoned dogs and how the situation could be resolved. We both agreed that it really starts with education, firstly at home by the parents and secondly, at school by the teachers. It would be beneficial for children if an hour a week could be programmed into the school curriculum on “Animals in our world,” starting with domestic animals. Vets could also visit the schools (free of charge) to help children understand that animals form an important part of our society and have done so since man first walked the planet. Some of the older generations have been skeptical in their view of animals, thinking that all dogs carry a disease and may bite you. Obviously, this view is reflected onto young children, causing them to be fretful and afraid. But the older generations are now passing on and the younger generations are more friendly and empathetic toward animals.
Dogs play a major role in our society because they aid people to live and work. Guide dogs are trained and used for people with visual and other disabilities. Dogs are trained by the police to use at airports and for tracking drugs and criminals. They are also used to assist when disasters occur, especially when an earthquake happens. They are used by farmers, for the control of their sheep. Dogs have a vital role in the lives of many people around the world.
Nowadays, dogs are chipped, vaccinated and neutered. Some owners prefer to have pedigree dogs but Deveci said that you must be careful when choosing a pedigree dog because there is a certain amount of interbreeding that causes recessive diseases, thus causing difficulties in the care of dogs. Street dogs and crossbreeds don’t have such diseases. The vet is very keen that all volunteers are certified to ensure they check the streets for abandoned dogs. He also stated that it would be beneficial to have meetings with authorities in the municipality to assess the care and control of street animals. Marmaris Municipality is currently preparing a website that you will be able to visit online. Always be careful if you see some media sites requesting donations for abandoned or distressed animals. The official sites are authentic but some people use websites for their own financial gain, rather than that of the animal. It is always important to get a receipt where you can or, preferably, go to an official site.
What is the panacea for abandoned animals? Municipalities in touristic areas and the main cities have endeavored to rectify the problem of street dogs relatively well, and Marmaris Municipality Animal Rehabilitation Center is a good example. However, a lot more can be achieved, and it would be advantageous for inland municipalities to emulate them. Tourism is a vital industry for Turkey and of all the countries I have visited, the Aegean has one of the most beautiful coastlines. Istanbul is a magical city. The country has numerous historical sites, the food is delicious and the people are kind and hospitable. Despite difficult times, these are big tourist attractions that can be capitalized on and there are always ways for improvement. It would be wonderful as a starting point to see some of the schools insert a lesson on animal welfare and educate the children so that they know dogs have an important role in our society and not to live in fear of them.
All the dogs and puppies at the rehabilitation center are looking for homes. They are much easier to look after and have fewer problems than pure breeds. If you would like to adopt a dog, need advice on looking after your dog or would like to give a donation, you can contact the animal rehabilitation centers in your city or town. My dog is now an old lady and not so white. However, she has become wise and sits outside the kitchen door and the two of us wait patiently for the börek to come out of the oven! Sometimes life has been like a rollercoaster, but she has been there with me through thick and thin. What are the benefits of owning a dog? Well, if you treat them properly, they become your best friend and companion. They don’t argue or nag and they don’t answer back. That is a big bonus! All they require is shelter, food and love.
Francine Charles' Dog