We dropped off our 84-year-old aunt, whom we had hosted at iftar the night before, at her house late. Although our aunt’s house is in a modern downtown area, 5-10 dogs surrounded my car when I pulled into the street. I had to take precaution with my son by bringing the car closer to the gate of the resort so the dogs wouldn’t attack.
Not a day goes by without news of new stray dog attacks. The death of 9-year-old Mahra Melin Pınar while fleeing a stray dog when she was hit by a car shook the country. Before that, a little girl named Asiye was seriously injured when pit bull dogs attacked. Our newspaper also carried these questions in its title last week.
Statista, a statistics company based in Germany, reports that around 35,000 people die each year worldwide in dog attacks. In 2021 alone, 24 of our fellow citizens died in our country, 535 of them were seriously injured. Most of them were killed by children and stray dogs.
The basic approach to the problem of stray dogs should be empathy. The Minister of the Environment and Urban Planning, in his statement the day before, could have better understood the drama if he had had a little empathy while defending the application of Law No. 5199. If he could put himself in the shoes of Mahra’s parents, Mehmet, Hacı Ali or Davut, who lost their lives in dog attacks, I think it would be easier for him to grasp the extent of the problem. Minister, please open the videos of Mahra before her death and take a look. If the minister is not shaken that this lively little angel lost his leg after being hit by a 30-tonne truck while escaping a stray dog and then lost his life , we must redefine politics and the state.
We are the children of a tradition that says: “The sigh of the oppressed makes the throne tremble”, “Let the people live so that the State lives”. However, the heads of the institutions responsible for this work stubbornly do not want to see the tragedy. The so-called “animal lovers” prevent this problem from being seen. Behind these formations is mainly the Gezi crew. No political situation, no opposition concern should be more important than the lives of our people. Those who carry legislative and executive responsibilities on their shoulders are primarily responsible for protecting their citizens and taking the necessary precautions. Especially the kids…
According to scientific studies, the annual dog attacks, which were 85,000 in 2000, reached 350,000 in 2021. According to data from the General Directorate of Public Health of the Ministry of Health, about 1000 of our fellow citizens refer to hospitals every day because of dog attacks. According to data from the World Health Organization, the biggest victims of stray dog attacks are children.
According to the statement from the Chamber of Veterinarians of Izmir, the number of stray dogs only reached 500,000 in Izmir and 10 million in Turkey. On the other hand, AK Party MP Özlem Zengin, in her statement on the Animal Rights Bill, said that if sterilization is not carried out, the stray dog population is expected to reach 60 million. ten years from now. These figures lead to an excessive increase in the number of stray dogs, an intensification of stray dog attacks with the increase in numbers, deaths, injuries, security problems, traffic accidents, and are increasingly at the agenda in the national press.
The problem here is that the definitions in Law #5199 and the regulations published under the law are incomplete and contradict each other. The introduction of the title, which is conceptualized as “Animal Welfare” in EU countries, in Turkish as “Animal Rights” forms the basis of this problem. In addition, the notion of “animal home” and the item “leave the rehabilitated animal where it was brought” are other reasons for the problems encountered. The fact that the institution responsible for stray animals is not clearly spelled out in the law and regulation also causes the issue to be thrown from one to the other and stay in the middle.
According to research, there are 89.7 million dogs in the United States. However, these dogs are kept in nursing homes, not on the streets. Dogs in nursing homes are put to sleep if they can’t be adopted. There is no stray dog problem in the EU countries Germany, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden. In these countries, stray dogs are collected and placed in rest homes. In other EU countries, there is no problem with stray dogs in city centres.
Although the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning is responsible for stray dogs in our country, the main work is done by local governments. However, the capacity of all the animal shelters in our country is around 100,000. Considering that there are 10 million stray dogs in total, it is seen that the existing centers can only meet 1% of them. This situation inevitably leads to the release to the streets of captured stray dogs and the death/injury of our people, which is our main capital, from further attacks. As the number of people who have lost their lives in the last 5 years has exceeded the number of victims of terrorist attacks, isn’t it time to reconsider the scope of “negligent murder”, which is a section of law?