ANTALYA - A new campaign has been launched by animal lovers in Antalya to make the public conscious of the plight of dogs abandoned on the street by their owners.
The "Beni Terk Etme" (Don’t Leave Me) initiative is being organized by the Animal Rights Foundation, or HAYTAP, and the Konyaaltı Friends Association, or KDD, and has already received support from local officials, including the provincial religious directorate.
"We also had the provincial religious directorate’s support for our last project, which asked people to put water containers on the streets for stray animals," said Nilsu Güleç of HAYTAP. "Imams in Antalya mentioned the subject in their hutbes, the speeches made during the Friday prayer. Provincial Religious Director Mahmut Yeleser said one of the main principles of Islam is kindness for animals and promised to include this project in upcoming hutbes."
People should not have dogs that they cannot take care of, said Güleç, who strongly urged families not to buy pets as presents or as rewards for their kids’ good grades. "Once the holiday is over, most of those pets are left on the streets," she said. "Some shop owners keep a dog in their shop to create a good image for tourists, then leave the animal to its destiny once the season is over. Antalya is the most troubled city when it comes to abandoned pets, and we aim to make a difference with this project."
Local officials have promised to contribute to the project, with Konyaaltı Mayor Muhittin Böcek vowing to allocate seven billboards in the district to promote the campaign and the Directorate of Highways agreeing to allow posters to be hung on the billboards on the highways surrounding Antalya.
A problem for all
"This is not a campaign that will see results with the efforts of only two nongovernmental organizations," said Güleç. "This a problem of the whole society; everybody should contribute toward a solution. We need the help of both animal lovers who feel sorry for stray animals and the people who do not want to see animals on the streets."
Güleç added that the solutions found so far Ğ including creating huge shelters, most of which are "death camps," taking the animals outside of the city or killing thousands of strays Ğ "have caused nothing but emotional distress and created confrontation between the municipalities and animal lovers."
A recent research shows that one dog abandoned on the streets can indirectly lead to the production of thousands of descendents in five years, Güleç said, calling for volunteers to take participate in the fieldwork of the "Beni Terk Etme" campaign.