One of the things I loved most about Turkey, was how they treated the animals there. I am an animal lover at heart and not afraid to admit that I like animals more than I like most people (except you…you know who you are!) So I was truly touched when I saw how kind the Turks were to the abundant stray population. I’ve been to some countries where the people can be downright cruel to stray animals, thinking of them merely as pests that should be exterminated. But that was definitely not the case in Turkey!
Turkey does not have animal shelters like we have in the United States. So in order to help control the stray population, they have a “neuter and release” program. Stray dogs are picked up, given immunizations and then spayed or neutered. Before being released, the dog’s ear is tagged to show the dog has been properly evaluated, treated, and neutered. It seems to be a very effective program because the stray dogs I saw were the happiest strays I have ever seen! They all seemed very well-fed and generally in good health. Most of them were just trying to find their place in the shade and none of them seemed skittish or fearful of people.
There were also stray cats everywhere around the country. I’m not sure if they have the same “neuter and release” program for cats, but I didn’t see any cats with their ears tagged. However, they were just as happy and go-lucky as the dogs were. Both dogs and cats could be found hanging around shops and even restaurants. But rather than shop owners shooing them away, they all graciously put out food and fresh water. It was incredibly heart-warming to witness such genuine concern for all of these homeless animals.
Remember: As Bob Barker always said, “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.”