Ministry defends animal protection law after protests

Ministry defends animal protection law after protests

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Ministry defends animal protection law after protests

Thousands of people hit the streets on Sept 30 to protest the amendments. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIK

The Turkish Forestry and Waterworks Ministry has defended a controversial amendment to a law on animal protection after broad participation in protests in 14 Turkish cities.

“All creatures have the right to life,” was proposed as an amendment to Law no. 5199’s essential principle, according to a written statement issued by the ministry yesterday.

The draft, which was called the “murder law” by thousands of protesters Sept. 30 in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, has fueled fears of mass killings of animals.

However the ministry said neither the present law nor draft law provided for euthanasia.
The ministry said it was totally against kill shelters.

Stray animals are picked up from the streets and sent to shelters to wait up to 30 days for adoption, after which municipalities put them down in many European countries such as Spain, Finland, Belgium, Portugal, Sweden, Romania and Ireland, the statement said.

“Unlike European countries, we aim to find owners for those pets but since the system does not work properly and the capacity of shelters is insufficient, we have added the ‘natural parks’ mechanism until long-term solutions are found.”

The reason was to protect animals from dying on the streets due to traffic accidents, hunger, illnesses and thirst.

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 and their placement in “natural parks” out of the cities.
The ministry also said the new law will mandate stricter punishments for rape, abuse and torture crimes against animals.

“Natural parks will be a prosperity area for animals,” according to the ministry, however animal lovers remember the mass poisoning of stray dogs in Istanbul’s Bolluca Forest in 2011.

More than 100 dogs were rounded up and brought to the forest by municipal officials and later poisoned, according to animal rights activists, on March 10, 2011.