Veterinarians urge establishment of animal shelters
Meryem Özgenç – ANKARA
Ankara Regional Chamber of Veterinarians President Hüseyin Tanrıverdi has said that they have applied to the state-owned Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ) with a project demanding the establishment of permanent animal shelters in 81 provinces.
Indicating that only in Istanbul and Ankara, there are close to 800,000 stray animals, Tanrıverdi said: “The problem is big. But this problem can be solved only with shelters open to the public whose health conditions have been well thought of. And this can be done by TOKİ in 81 provinces. We have prepared our project and made our application.”
Tanrıverdi told daily Hürriyet that the “deficiency of permanent animal shelters” is starting to be felt across Turkey more and more every day. “We face a serious permanent animal shelter problem across Turkey first and foremost in larger cities such as Ankara, Istanbul and İzmir. The municipalities and relevant statistical institutions are short of work related to animals that have live on the streets,” he said.
Strays are taken care of in temporary shelters if they need treatment, but are afterwards released back to the streets since municipalities do not allocate a sufficient budget for animals. “Only in Ankara, it is estimated that there are close to 200,000 strays. And in Istanbul, this figure is three to four times higher. Turkey-wise, this number is much higher, so the problem is big,” Tanrıverdi said.
“So, what are we to do? Since municipalities cannot allocate a sufficient budget for stray animals due to various reasons, the TOKİ, which has been building millions of housings, shops, shopping malls, stadiums, gymnasiums, hospitals for more than 15 years, should build permanent shelters in 81 provinces,” he said.
“For example, if a municipality can build a shelter with a capacity of 5,000 animals for 3 million Turkish Liras ($0.5 million), since TOKİ will apply this [project] countrywide, the cost will fall more than half. So, let’s start a project and build hygienic shelters in unused state lands that are fully equipped, where animals can regularly feed and with health complexes inside. Paying attention to animal lovers’ opinions, we have prepared our project,” he said.
If such a shelter can accommodate 15,000 animals, a total of 1.2 million animals will be able to live in “healthy and hygienic” conditions, Tanrıverdi said.
“Together with our veterinarians in all of our cities, we are ready to assume responsibility. We are ready to plan the shelter projects, their health conditions and the situation of the animals,” said Tanrıverdi, urging the establishment of a joint commission with TOKİ regarding this issue.
Tanrıverdi suggested that these shelters be open to the public and citizens come here freely and adopt animals if they wish to do so. Although the project initially foresees the establishment of 81 shelters, this number can be increased in the future, Tanrıverdi said. “We can also open to these places [shelters] to the inspection of our animal lovers,” he said.
“Thanks to our citizens acting temperate, at least for now, there is no crisis or big problem [regarding the high number of strays in the country]. But this situation will not be always like this, and sometimes does not so. We need to respect the animals’ rights to life. They also have a right to continue their lives in healthy, clean and hygienic environments and be exposed to regular feeding,” he said.