Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Turkey's plans to Kill all Stray Animals! Protest letter


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Subject: Turkey, new plans, stray animals

Council of Europe
Prime Minister of Turkey
Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs
Environmental Commission

Dear Council of Europe,
Dear Prime Minister, dear Madam, dear Sir,

Turkey being a signatory of the European Council's Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals since 2004, we would like to inform you that there is every reason to believe that Turkey plans to kill all stray animals.

In a draft document, prepared in secret and that was presented for approval mid September 2012 the Turkish Government intends to abolish the current program of TNR (Trap, Neuter and Return) and it proposes that municipalities round up ALL free roaming animals (dogs and perhaps even cats) and place them in what they are calling 'Dogal hayat parklari' (natural life parks).
Bearing in mind the pathetic inability of the Turkish government to run proper a sheltering network and rehabilitation facilities, there is every single reason to believe that those so-called “Natural Parks” will be nothing but death camps of the worst kind.

These parks will just be fenced off areas, probably forests, far from populated areas where hundreds or even thousands of animals will have to fend for themselves as they will be left there to die slow and agonizing deaths without food, and water. Many will die of starvation, others will fight to the death over whatever they can find. They will end up eating each other. Many will probably suffer terrible injuries from fights over limited food sources and disease will spread through the population like wildfire.

Another crucially important change in the law is the introduction of Breed Specific Legislation. Owners of dogs whose breed is considered dangerous will be forced to surrender their animals to either be killed or incarcerated for life in those “Natural Life Parks”. These animals, too will be sentenced to death if this diabolic law passes.

Following heavy protests by Turkish citizens held simultaneously in 13 cities in Turkey with tens of thousands of people on the streets, supported by people from all around the world, tens of thousands of signatures collected via petitions and letters sent to the Turkish government, the authorities had put their evil plan on halt. Until now... February 2014.

Another regulation that was announced on February 15, 2014 and which gives reason for concerns, would make it easier to experiment on animals. An excerpt from this regulation includes the following clause:

c) Domestic pets such as cats and dogs that live as strays cannot be used in experiments. Nevertheless, those stray animals can be used in experiments if there is an emerging need for studies on animal health and welfare, if those strays pose a serious threat to environmental safety or human and animal health, or if there is scientific evidence in hand supporting the fact that such a study can only be conducted using stray animals.

The draft also doesn’t introduce any restrictions on dog breeding and sales, which is the source of the problem. Rather, it is centered on this highly profitable business of breeding, selling and then “destroying” the “surplus product.” Municipalities also have budgets for spay and neuter programs, but most of the money is transferred to other areas. Which brings us to the heart of the problem...

During the last years, civil society groups have increasingly been voicing their suspicions that corruption in shelters is the main cause for the reluctance of municipalities to control the population of stray animals on Turkey's streets, given the large amounts of funding they receive. Most municipalities base shelter funding on the number of dogs neutered. Killing dogs once they have been neutered instead of returning them to their streets where they will keep away other dogs means more dogs, which in turn means more operations and more funding coming in over the long run. The pet industry is a big industry: every birth and death, every neutering tender at every municipality, every operation and every food purchase is money that goes into somebody’s pockets, whether that be a private or municipal veterinarian, a dog breeder or a medicine or veterinary supplies company that works with the municipalities.

According to an article published in the Turkish press 'Today's Zaman' on July 29, 2012, animal rights activists say the government is actively supporting -- and perhaps is and wants to become a participant -- in this lucrative cycle of death and suffering. A source who requested to remain unnamed claims that the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality is planning to open a dog food factory, adding that this is happening at a time when the government is introducing new regulations to allow the use of animal carcasses that are normally not meant for human consumption. If true, this means that the municipality plans to use slaughtered dogs in the dog food business, which might be a reason for officials to continue the cycle of breeding and destroying.

Those amendments, if passed, will bring genocide to Turkey in a scale never seen before and we are afraid that the reaction of the population in Turkey will be without any precedent, too. Protests are already planned in Istanbul on 2nd of March, 2014 and we know that animals rights organisations and citizens are determined and are organizing themselves to fight for the lives of these innocent animals. The international community also will react very harshly and if this law passes, Turkey can thus expect boycott of tourism and commerce, advertising against their country, demonstrations in front of their embassies, travel agencies, on the internet and various media.
It is our ardent plea that the Council of Europe sends a strong message to Turkey to remind them of their obligations in terms of animal welfare as a signatory of the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals, and that the Council of Europe tries to bring the Turkish Government to reason and to give up their evil plans.
We thank you very much, in advance, for having taken the time to read our letter and for intervening in this matter so that this criminal law will not be passed, thus circumventing a tragedy of epic proportions for both humans and non-human animals in Turkey.


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