New law will give jail terms to animal torturers: Turkish minister

New law will give jail terms to animal torturers: Turkish minister

Meltem Özgenç – ANKARA
New law will give jail terms to animal torturers: Turkish minister Those who torture animals will face prison terms in the future, according to the Forestry and Water Affairs Minister Veysel Eroğlu, who heralded new regulations on animal rights including more severe punishment for mistreatment of animals.

“Necessary legal procedures are carried out against those who kill or torture animals. There is a fine for that now. When the new regulations are introduced, it will be punished with a prison sentence,” Eroğlu told daily Hürriyet on June 23, adding that the new laws were prepared with the contribution of animal rights associations.

“People often talk about ‘Europe and its civilization,’ but they don’t value animals at all. They only value the animals they feed at home. They don’t allow street animals to live and they ‘euthanize’ them, meaning that they kill them. This is absolutely forbidden in Turkey,” he said. 

Animal rights have been a major issue of criticism in Turkey, with many activists slamming the laws for not giving necessarily harsh punishments to those mistreating animals.

Eroğlu also commented on the situation of pet shops, which have been criticized for the mistreatment of animals, saying no punishments can currently be given to those who don’t comply with the rules due to the lack of a related law. 

“We are checking the pet shops and warning them in adverse situations. However, we cannot impose a fine because of the lack of a law. When the new law is enacted, there won’t be animals other than fish and some bird species in pet shops. Cats and dogs will be kept in nice breeding environments and their sale will be carried out through a catalogue. It’s our duty to provide comfort for these animals in pet shops until the introduction of the law,” he added. 

Eroğlu said a massive campaign on animal adoption has been launched.

“We are helping municipalities. A total of 153,591 animals were castrated in 231 animal shelters with the capacity to house 83,900 animals. Some 175,962 animals were vaccinated. We are carrying out a five-step process. We vaccinate the animals and then put a chip in them, a tag on their ear, castrate them and then put them up for adoption. A total of 39,393 animals have been adopted via the chips that were put in them,” he added.

The ministry provides municipalities with spaces for animals and 5 million Turkish Liras were allocated to the castration of stray animals in 2017, the minister said.

“We also gave support worth 5 million liras to the municipalities that want to build new shelters. This way, they don’t have the ‘we don’t have any money’ excuse anymore,” he added.

Eroğlu stressed the importance of putting chips in animals in order to track whether those who adopt them take care of them.

“Some who go on vacation during the summer adopt an animal and then abandon it. This is wrong. After the enactment of the law, the punishment for this will be severe,” he said. 

Eroğlu also signaled the possibility of constructing spaces in front of restaurants or cafes for animals to be kept in while the owners are inside. 

“The entrance of animals to restaurants and cafes is not right in our culture. People may be unsettled by them or children may be afraid … However, places can be reserved near or in front of restaurants for them,” he said.

New regulations on the transportation of animals are also on the agenda.

“We are preparing a notice on the transportation of animals and determining the standards of the places they will be kept in, including the width and air conditioning of those spaces,” Eroğlu said. 

His remarks came after a dog called “Sushi” died on a ferry operated by the Istanbul Fast Ferries (İDO).

“Such incidents are upsetting. We love animals as a society. We love the creatures God has created. Animals are living beings and we need to respect their lives. We need to provide them with the right to live,” Eroğlu stated.