Stray animals’ fate uncertain, officials begin locking them up
A nationwide debate has sparked over the fate of stray animals following a gruesome incident in which a 4-year-old girl became the victim of a vicious dog attack, setting social media abuzz.
Asiye Ateş sustained severe injuries when two put pills mauled her in the southeastern province of Gaziantep while she was playing in a building complex in the Şahinbey district, severely inuring her from the neck and the head.
The incident led to an outrage on social media, with a substantial number of people demanding authorities to collect all stray animals and not just breeds deemed dangerous.
The call has led to the rise of two schools of thought: One group standing up for the rights of stray animals, saying that streets belong to these animals too, while the other group in favor of locking them up in animal shelters after they are neutered, stating it as probably the most reasonable solution for the betterment of these homeless animals.
While these discussions on social media are yet to go anywhere, some local authorities, agreeing to the calls of collecting stray animals and locking them up in shelters, have begun their operation already.
“Dozens of municipalities in Istanbul, Afyon and Ankara started to collect animals opportunistically. Where will a shelter with a capacity of 50 put 1,500 animals?” asked Nesrin Çıtırık, the chairperson of HAYKONFED, a federation of animal protection groups.
She said that 1,200 out of 1,389 municipalities still do not have sterilization centers and shelters even though there has been a law order for it for 17 years in Turkey.
“These municipalities, defying the law and the state, collect poor animals in shelters that do not exist now, some of these animals will be killed and some will be left in rural areas,” Çıtırık said, adding that it was not fair to make stray animals pay for the biting incident of owned animals with death and cruelty against them.
Meanwhile, a piece of good news about Ateş’s health came from the southern province of Antalya, the city that hosts one of the best organ and tissue transplant centers in the world. According to a senior official, a three-hour surgery performed at Akdeniz University Hospital on the girl was successful.
“The first session surgery was performed for the tissue loss in the face and hairy area of Ateş,” said Professor Yıldıray Çete, the chief physician of the university hospital.
“Since tissue transplantations are performed by microsurgical method, there are risks related to the tissue in the first few days, but as of now, both the transplanted tissues are healthy and the vital signs of the patient are stable,” he said.
While discussion about stray animals and dogs of dangerous breeds is picking momentum and has become a sensitive issue, two citizens in Istanbul and one in the Aegean province of Denizli were injured due to a pit bull attack.
Under Turkey’s Animal Protection Act, pit bull terriers, Tosas and other breeds posing a danger to humans are banned from being bred and sold, and those violating the laws are given fines.
However, the internet continues to be a lucrative platform for illegal sellers to sell potentially dangerous canine breeds.