Like I’ve mentioned before, Turkey definitely has quite a number of street animals. As a crazy animal lover, it’s one of the hardest parts of living here for me. My heart breaks when I see puppies or kittens roaming around, and when I see an animal that’s hurt or too skinny, it ruins my mood for days. There are some programs here to try to reduce the number of strays, and they do help, but the problem persists and I’m not sure that it will ever truly be under control. Animals are picked up, given injections, spayed or neutered and then released back…these animals are usually identifiable by a tag placed in their ears.
Mustafa and I have talked ad nauseum about the street animals and specifically the Turks’ attitude toward them. Thank God it’s changing for the better. Of course there are animal lovers here, but they just don’t seem to be as common as they are in the US, UK, etc. Many locals see the street animals as dirty and scary. Admittedly there are some aggressive ones, but I’ve found that often they’re only aggressive because they’re scared as a result of past abuse. Something that always breaks my heart.
I love being one of the people who the street animals know and trust. It makes me so happy when they see me and run up to me, tails wagging, knowing that I like them, will pet them, and often feed them. Like I said though, many of them will approach me, all excited, but there’s something in them that’s fearful. They’re hesitant and some won’t get too close. Likely fearful of being hit or kicked. It’s sickening, really. Gradually I win most of them over though :)
Like I said, things are changing. Recently the major political parties here agreed to come together for legislation that would increase the penalty for abusing a street animal from a misdemeanor to a criminal offense. There are also various programs that are becoming more visible and appealing to people to realize that animals have a right to exist just as people do, to provide water for them, etc. It makes me happy when I see Turks being friendly to the animals, particularly when it’s a family with young children. I have to believe that things will improve or I’ll go crazy.
Speaking of strays, our little street animal is doing very well. We all survived our month apart – I think I was the most stressed of us all. Mustafa’s parents came by daily to spend time with her and I was really happy that she didn’t seem angry at us when we returned. I’d heard stories of people’s cats holding a grudge! She was immediately very affectionate and sweet. I’m not sure if it was the result of stress or if it’s just seasonal but she’s been shedding like mad! Tufts of hair every time we pet her or brushed her. Thankfully the worst seems to be behind us now. I was growing very tired of daily vacuuming! Thank God for lint rollers too…my wardrobe contains a LOT of black! :)