Volunteers find dogs poisoned in Sariyer / Turkish Daily News, Friday, February 29, 2008

Volunteers find dogs poisoned in Sariyer Friday, February 29, 2008

Sariyer Municipality's forests are dumping grounds for unwanted dogs, say certified animal protection volunteers. There, away from the public eye, dogs are continually massacred. In the last week 15 dogs were found poisoned in the area.

ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News

Fifteen stray dogs were found poisoned in the forested area of Istanbul's Sariyer district this week, according to eyewitness reports from animal protection volunteers in Sariyer and neighboring Bahçeköy yesterday.

The dogs were found - and then cared for - by the volunteers on the main road that connects Bahçeköy, Zekeriyaköy and the Black Sea town of Kilyos.
All of the dogs were shot with poison using the same Blow Pipe syringe device used mainly by municipalities as a way to clean? the city of unwanted dogs, the volunteers told the Turkish Daily News.

Sebnem Aslan, a lecturer at Bilgi University, has been an animal activist since 2000 and was certified one year ago as an animal welfare volunteer after taking a course organized by the Greater Istanbul Municipality. Aslan is a resident of Ariköy. ?This set of poisonings started last week, said Aslan. They all had the same injections in their backs.?

"This poison injection device is only used by municipalities", said Aslan, and she and other volunteers felt this batch of poisonings is proof the municipality was behind the deaths of the dogs. "But we are not sure which
municipality used them," she said. "They do this every three months or so, kill and poison them in Zekeriyaköy. Every day they bring new dogs from the center of the city, because people complain about them, and the city just dumps them here," said Aslan. She and the other volunteers in the area take
care of the dogs that arrive in their neighborhood, giving them bread and water, and "every two to three months these dogs just disappear," she said.
"Although they always suspected the dogs were killed, in this case the evidence is irrefutable," she said.

In her village of Ariköy, there are five volunteers like her to take care of the village's 20 stray dogs.

"This poisoning is not the first or the last; it has been going on for years. This is near Sariyer and we think Sariyer municipality did it," said Bilge Okay, founder of the Homeless Animals and Environmental Protection
Society (EHDKD).

A new animal protection law that stipulates internationally accepted practices about how to deal with stray dogs, was passed in 2004. Under Article 5199, municipalities are obliged to neuter and return stray animals
to where they are taken from so the animals can guard their neighborhoods from un-neutered ones. Throwing animals out of cities and into forests is illegal.

However, Sariyer Mayor Yusuf Tülün has been anything but supportive of the law and animal activists, according to volunteers in the Sariyer area.
Members of the EHDKD, which has lobbied the Sariyer municipality for years to help them take care of the stray dog problem by adhering to the law and working with the volunteers, got a brusque response from him which they posted on their Web site. (click here to read the article)

"The animal protection law is disgusting. I have to do what the citizens say. I get votes from human beings, not dogs. People don't want dogs in the streets. Why should I take them back to their territory? I have them
collected, taken to Kisirkaya and then dumped in their natural habitat, which is the forest. I would prefer poisoning were legal again. We have so many responsibilities other than dogs. I will not cooperate with volunteers.
They cannot enter the rehabilitation center in Kisirkaya. This problem can only be solved by the Metropolitan Municipality and the local government of Istanbul. All the dogs must be collected by them and dumped in areas far away from the city. Animal lovers can go and feed them there if they want to," Tulun reportedly said on Jan. 24. The mayor was not available to verify whether this statement was true.

One of Sariyer Municipality's veterinary experts, who asked to remain unnamed, spoke to the TDN. He denounced the poisonings and said they were clearly done by people with bad intentions. He is disappointed, however, that animal protection volunteers accused the Sariyer Municipality of the cruel acts. "Why are they accusing us? We had good relations with them," he said. The municipal expert was aware of the killings of three large dogs and a cat, but he understood their deaths were from food poisoning.
"The municipality sent one dog for an autopsy to verify the cause of its death", he said, adding that the municipality was not involved in leaving stray dogs in the forest. "Our role is to rehabilitate street animals," he said. "The welfare of animals, people and society is our job."

When asked whether the municipality intended to find the culprits who poisoned the dogs on the road from Bahçeköy to Kilyos, he said that area is outside Sariyer 's borders and is the responsibility of legal authorities.
Since Sariyer Municipality hired a new head veterinarian, Ahmet Bolukbasi, the city has seemed at least willing to cooperate with the animal welfare volunteers, he said.

EHDKD has two court cases open against Sariyer Municipality for illegally dumping dogs in forests. "We will not give up our legal struggle until this illegal, inhumane, cruel practice is stopped," said Ivan Jimenez, a real
estate finance officer and animal rights volunteer living in Istanbul, to the TDN. "We will not let animals be tortured like this."

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