Turkey's Plan to Euthanize Millions of Street Dogs Sparks Nationwide Outrage

Turkey's Plan to Euthanize Millions of Street Dogs Sparks Nationwide Outrage

Turkey faces a significant street dog problem, with an estimated four million strays roaming its cities and countryside.

The proposed bill from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ruling party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), has ignited a fierce debate across the nation.

The bill aims to address the issue through mass euthanasia of unadopted street dogs, a move that has polarized public opinion and sparked protests among animal rights activists and dog lovers.

Photo: Pexels
Turkey has proposed a bill to euthanize millions of street dogs.


A Radical Departure

The proposed law marks a stark departure from Turkey's existing policies, which focus on capturing, sterilizing, and releasing street dogs.

President Erdoğan has cited public health and safety concerns, stating that stray dogs pose a significant threat, leading to numerous road accidents and attacks on people, reports Al-Monitor.

In contrast, many see the mass euthanasia plan as a cruel and inhumane solution, arguing that the government has failed to effectively implement existing sterilization programs, leading to the current crisis, according to the Financial Times.

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President Erdoğan cited public safety concerns for the euthanasia plan.


Public Outcry and Opposition

The proposed bill has met with strong opposition from various quarters, including Islamist leaders and animal rights activists. Fatih Erbakan, leader of the Islamist New Welfare Party, condemned the bill, arguing that it violates Islamic teachings on the sanctity of life, Al-Monitor reports.

Additionally, animal rights activists have pointed to the horrific historical precedent of 1910 when thousands of stray dogs were left to die on an islet off the coast of Istanbul, leading to widespread public outrage and contributing to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, reports The Guardian.

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The bill has sparked nationwide protests among animal rights activists.


Voices from the Veterinary Community

The veterinary community in Turkey has also voiced its concerns. The Turkish Veterinarians Union has declared that its members will not perform euthanizations, calling the practice unethical and inhumane.

Dr. Murat Arslan, president of the Turkish Veterinary Medical Association, emphasized to the BBC  the need for better implementation of existing laws and more resources for shelters and sterilization programs. He noted that many municipalities lack the facilities to carry out the necessary operations, contributing to the growing street dog population.


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The proposed law marks a departure from Turkey's current sterilization and release policies.


Community Impact

The impact of the proposed bill on local communities is profound. In many neighborhoods, street dogs are a beloved part of the community. Residents often feed and care for these animals, creating a unique culture of cohabitation.

The bond between residents and street dogs is illustrated by stories like that of Boji, a famous stray dog in Istanbul who became a symbol of the city's vibrant street life, The Guardian reports. This cultural aspect makes the idea of mass euthanasia even more contentious and difficult to accept for many Turks.


Economic and Logistical Challenges

Implementing the proposed law presents significant economic and logistical challenges. With Turkey already grappling with an economic crisis and inflation rates soaring, questions arise about whether the government can afford the additional costs of expanding shelters and managing a mass euthanasia program.

Critics argue that the government should focus on improving the existing sterilization and shelter programs rather than resorting to such drastic measures, reports the Financial Times.

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The Turkish Veterinarians Union refuses to perform euthanizations.


A Divisive Issue

The debate over the mass euthanasia of street dogs has exposed deep divisions within Turkish society. While some view street dogs as a public nuisance and a threat to safety, others see them as an integral part of urban life that should be protected and cared for.

A recent poll found that while a majority of Turks support measures to take dogs off the streets, only a small fraction support euthanasia as a solution, the BBC reports.

As Turkey grapples with the proposed bill to address its stray dog problem, the nation remains deeply divided. The controversy underscores the complexity of balancing public health and safety concerns with animal rights and cultural values.

Whether through improved sterilization programs, expanded shelters, or other humane solutions, it is clear that the issue of Turkey's street dogs requires careful consideration and a multifaceted approach.

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