Pro Animals e.V .: The fate of the street dogs from Balikesir

by Jens Wolters

The family Ayalp is the carrier of the, already overcrowded, animal shelter “Oasis” in the Turkish city Balikesir. Now the family tries to find a proper solution for the problem of the more than 1.000 dogs that live on the streets of Balikesir.

Free-living dogs, that live in prides of about 10 animals, that move around in certain districts, and that can not be definitely related to a former owner, are a problem of many cities and towns in south European countries that is obvious to both, locals and tourists. These animals are often shy and very seldom aggressive against men. Very soon they experience that faithful looks gain more success when begging for food. In search of food, the dog prides stray through busy areas as well as through industrial areas, trash-dumps, harbours and other areas where superstores and restaurants are located and where food and comestibles is loaded, unloaded or disposed as waste. By living in prides, infective diseases can dispread fast between the dogs.
The death rate of puppies is much higher as at a life in the care of men. In spite of that, it is almost not possible to control the reproduction of the straying dogs, what is the hardest problem.

Where do the stray dogs come from?

In Germany, it is common to treat found dogs or cats like lost properties and to capture them and keep them in animal shelters until they can be returned to their owner. In Turkey, many dogs are not held inside apartments, but kept outside on a chain and are not paid much attention when they run away.

The stray dogs, that can be found in Turkey, Bulgaria and other countries, are often dogs that run away from men or that were abandoned (and of course their offspring). According to the Turkish law, it is interdicted to abandon or kill pets, but – at least in the city Balikesir – no case of criminal conviction because of doing so, is known. Because only few dogs are castrated, the number of the ownerless animals increases steadily.

To solve the problem of the countless dogs on the streets, German animal welfare activists only consider actions, that are enduring successful as well as compatible to their understanding of animal protection.
Although many people from other countries, according to their different traditional and cultural aspects, have a different meaning concerning animal protection, there are also many animal lovers in Turkey, who share and practice the same ideas of animal protection as the German animal welfare activists. For these people it is out of question to catch and kill the dogs that live on the streets. It is considered as irresponsible to keep the eyes shut, to ignore the problem and to leave the abandoned dogs to their fate.

The most reasonable solution to get the stray dogs and their rising population under control – and not only in Balikesir – is to start a large action to castrate the dogs. A comparable and successful example are the many free living and savaged cats in Germany, that too can not be related to their former owners. Because of the fact, that a not castrated cat can – just calculative – procreate an offspring of more than a million kittens, there was started an action to castrate these cats and to prevent the uncontrolled reproduction of the animals, already 20 years ago.

The animal shelter of the city Balikesir

The Turkish animal welfare activist Nilgün Ayalp and her husband, who carry the animal shelter “Oasis” in the city Balikesir since 1995, can look back to an extraordinary development. About ten years ago, they asked the German animal rights group “Pro Animale für Tiere in Not e.V.” for their help to purchase some pharmaceuticals for the animals. When the employees of “Pro Animale für Tiere in Not e.V.” visited the family Ayalp, they noticed the estate of family Ayalp, that was nearly a hectar large, and had the idea, that it would be a good place to build an animal shelter. The family Ayalp agreed to that proposition, but mentioned, that they had not enough money to finance such an animal shelter, permanently. But the family provided their estate for the animal shelter, if “Pro Animale” would bear the expenses for the further running costs. They agreed upon that and since then, the German animal welfare activists finance not only the supply of the animals, but also the whole animal shelter, including the salary of the five employees.

The city Balikesir with its 200.000 inhabitants is located in the flat country in the northwest of Turkey. It is known by its university, a military school and a military airport, but it can not benefit from the publicity of a holiday resort.

The animal shelter is constructed to give a home to from 100 up to 120 dogs. Today, there live more than 175 dogs, 7 cats, 23 goats, 11 sheep, 3 donkeys, 3 horses, 5 ducks, 2 turkeys, a cow, a rabbit and about 100 doves.
The monthly expenses result from the costs for the food for dogs (ca. 1.200 Euro) and for the cattle (ca. 250 Euro), veterinary treatments and pharmaceuticals (ca. 350 Euro), repairing on the buildings and energy (ca. 550 Euro) and staff (ca. 3.400 Euro). They grow and harvest Maize and oat as additional feeding stuff.

It is impossible to house the numerous stray dogs in animal shelters, because it would simply overcrowd the institutions, that are anyway quite crowded with needy animals and barely supported by their towns or communities.

Such animal shelters benefit quite often from the helpfulness of involved German animal welfare activists, who enable sponsorships and so called “puppy airlifts”, by which puppies, that are old enough, can be transported to Germany and there are given to new owners by German animal shelters. These dog-transports demand a well thought-out logistic, are very expensive and need much time. Furthermore, they often don´t work easily, because of the regulation of different countries. And at last, this idea does not lead to a lasting relaxation of the problematic situation.

Animal welfare activists in Turkey

Within the scope of his honorary work as vice-chairman of the worldwide acting, nonprofitmaking “Tierschutz-Stiftung Wolfgang Bösche”, the German animal welfare activist Jens Wolters informed himself of Nilgün Ayalps work as animal welfarist in Turkey.

Jens Wolters: Ms. Ayalp, the media often inform German animal lovers of foreign traditions e.g. as bullfights, that are considered as cruelty to animals by most of the people here. But the different meanings of animal protection and its possible realisation in different countries can literally be seen on the roads and e.g. in your animal shelter.

Nilgün Ayalp: This is absolutely true. I know from German friends the work and organisation of German animal shelters and we would like to work in the same manner, but at present, we can hardly realize this. Here, ownerless dogs from the animal shelter are not sought-after and so it is difficult to find people, who take them out of the animal shelter. Even if people can be found, that want our dogs, we must fear, that the dogs will be kept on a chain, what we don´t appreciate and don´t want to support. Many dog-lovers spent a lot of money to buy pedigreed dogs from dog-breeders. If the dog later annoys the owner, they just abandon it, what, among other things, lead to the large number of stray dogs on the streets.

J.W.: What possibilities do you have with the animal shelter, that these dogs can be helped?

N.A.: We don´t have the possibility to give an appropriate home to all these dogs. Our animal shelter is already overcrowded and our financial scope is quite limited. Some of our dogs live in the animal shelter since more then 10 years, but as long as the animals are accessible and healthy, we would never think of euthanize them to have more room in the animal shelter.

J.W.: In September 2005, several German animal rights groups published a report on their homepages, that described the conditions in a Turkish animal shelter with the name “Balikesir/Erdek”, that were very cruel to the animals. But they didn´t give more information about the situation and the location of this animal shelter, so that animal-lovers, who are not familiar with the place, could mistake this animal shelter for yours.

N.A.: The situation in most of the Turkish animal shelters is quite problematic. Therefore it is important, that we don´t overestimate our possibilities and only take as many dogs as we can give an adequate supply. The animal shelter “Balikesir/Erdek”, that you spoke of, is located 150 Km away from us, but it is still in the administrate region of Balikesir, that includes 19 other towns and about 900 villages.

J.W.: So there is not much hope to handle the problem and the fate of the stray dogs, in the long run?

N.A.: Sure there is hope, but it is connected with hard work and many costs and awareness training with the people.
In our opinion, the protection of the animals in Turkey can not consist in housing a specific number of stray dogs in animal shelters and leave the other dogs to its fate. Therefore we plan to downsize our animal shelter, that then should concentrate on the housing of animals, that are very young, old, injured, handicapped or in need. This is also intended by the actual Turkish law for the protection of animals.
As a further measure, we began to catch straying dogs, let them check-up by a veterinary who also gives them an anti-rabies inoculation and castrates them. Then we earmark them and register them in a cart index with a photo. After a short time of convalescence, we set them back in freedom. The animals in the animal shelter were always castrated. In 2005, we could already castrate more than 300 stray dogs. We financed a part of the costs by donations from friends, the rest was financed by us.

J.W.: How many stray dogs live in the city Balikesir, now?

N.A.: In the past, all stray dogs were captured and settled at the garbage dump. Today, there live about 600 dogs. Inside the city live about 500 dogs, that are tolerated by the local government, until we inoculate and castrate the dogs.

J.W.: How does the public treats the problem of the stray dogs?

N.A.: The media are interested in our work and in the fate of the dogs. They reported several times about it. The politicians and the local government as well as most people don´t show any interest on the protection of animals. In fact, many citizens feel disturbed by the stray dogs.
Therefore, our animal shelter gets no financial support by the city and it is quite impossible to get donations by local people or companies. The active help of honorary animal-lovers, as we know it from Germany, is unimaginable, here.

J.W.: Are there certain things, that you need to continue with the castrations and to bring the action to a successful end?

N.A.: Oh yes. If we assume, that at least 800 stray dogs have to be castrated, to get the situation of uncontrolled reproduction of the dogs under control, we need material to sew up the wounds, sterile gloves, antibiotics, analgesics, disposable syringes and above all, one or more veterinaries, who support us. The material costs for one castration, including an anti-rabies inoculation, add up to 10 Euro per treatment. This is an amount of money, that we can not take from our regular running costs.
Therefore, we would be very happy, if animal- and dog-lovers from Germany and other countries could support us.

J.W.: Thank you Ms. Ayalp, for the interesting information and impressions of your animal protection work and problems in Turkey.

Help from Germany

After the German animal-lover Wolfgang Bösche, chairman of the worldwide acting “Tierschutz-Stiftung Wolfgang Bösche” heard of this situation, he decided to help within the scope of his very young, non-profitmaking foundation.

After getting in contact and researching carefully, his foundation reports on its homepages and in German, English and Turkish on the situation of the stray dogs in the city Balikesir and the action to castrate the dogs, that has already started.

With the help of trade journals, the foundation wants to call attention to the problem of the dogs, that live on the Streets of Balikesir and pleads for donations to finance the needed materials for the about 800 remaining castrations.

Address of the animal shelter “Oasis”:    animal shelter “Oasis”
Family Ayalp
Atköy Hayvan Barinagi
10002 Balikesir
Contact person: Frau Nilgün Ayalp

Banking-account: Bayerische Hypo- und Vereinsbank AG

IBAN DE94 2003 0000 0007 2007 77


Keyword “Stray Dogs Balikesir”