Tortured, abused, abandoned animals find refuge on İzmir farm in Turkey’s west
İdris Emen – İZMİR
More than 700 animals including cows, goats, cats, dogs and rabbits, which have been abandoned, abused or are disabled have had the chance to begin a new chapter in their lives after being taken in by Sibel Çağlar on Turkey’s first farm sanctuary in the western province of İzmir.
From tired carriage horses to bulls from all over Turkey, this sanctuary welcomes all and helps all animals it takes in experience a healthier, happier and calmer old age period.
Yet, some are certain to get the fast pass.
“We make a concession to animals that were abused or have seeing difficulties or other disabilities because it is not possible for them to survive on their own,” Çağlar said.
“We provide their treatments, too,” she added.
If the animal is too wounded for travel, Çağlar said, they treat it first and then bring it to the farm.
“There are cats and dogs [on the farm] that were abandoned or injured in accidents,” she noted, also saying there are over 20 blind cats and three-legged cats on the farm.
“One duck, two donkeys, four cats and two dogs [on the farm] were sexually abused,” Çağlar added.
Çağlar, who since her childhood had an urge to lend a hand to animals, was working in the field of maternal and children’s health in Ankara when the seed for the project was first planted.
The sanctuary grew into the giant refuge it is now, when the initial project in Ankara faced the need for growth as a result of the increasing number of incoming animals, so they moved to the farm to the countryside in the west.
Established on 10 acres of land and 50 kilometers away from the central Aegean city of İzmir, this animal haven was constructed in 2016.
Being the first to take farm animals into a sanctuary, both from cities and villages alike, Çağlar said they still face some interesting reactions from time to time.
“[The villagers] came to get milk from the sanctuary. I told them we don’t have milk. They then suggested we slaughter them if there’s no milk,” she said.
“One day, the village butcher could not find an animal to slaughter, so he came to grab our bull. I told him that the bull is like our children and that we wouldn’t give it away. So, the villagers first thought I had lost it,” Çağlar added.
Yet, Çağlar helped raise awareness in the neighborhood with her project.
“They then got used to it,” she said.
“Now, when an animal gets sick, they bring it here. Hunters had shot this pig and the villagers brought it here for treatment.”
Talking about villages and animals, Çağlar also said many of the animals in villages are left on an empty stomach. She said they are seen as “servants” instead of living beings.
“When their service period is over, they are either abandoned or shot. When these animals are sent into nature, they are considered ‘freed.’ Actually, it’s just another way of killing them. They are not any different than cats and dogs,” she said.
Only those whom Çağlar trusts have the chance to adopt the cats and the dogs saved by the farm, however, the farm animals are here to stay, she said.
“[Farm animals are not up for adoption] because they can be seized over material reasons. If we give the farm animals to others then [the animals] could get seized over financial debts,” she added.
Çağlar and several friends of hers try to come up with 15,000 Turkish Liras (around $3,805) each month to provide for the needs of the animals, including their treatment.
To finance the project, they go on charity sales and sell products at organic bazaars, she said.
Yet, Çağlar said, this cycle alone is not what she sees for the future of the project.
“I want to establish farm sanctuaries in Istanbul, Ankara and a city in the east,” she said.
“We are running out of space here,” said Çağlar.