It all began when our founder Isabel visited Istanbul in January 2016. During her two week visit she could not ignore the plight of street animals. In the area where she stayed, she came across cat colonies and cats on literally every corner of the streets. Isabel would feed them in the morning and again in the evenings before it got dark. During her feeding sessions she witnessed the tragedy of homeless animals. The majority of them were sick, orphaned, underweight kittens who were simply trying to keep warm from extremely icy cold weather.
The bitter experience in Istanbul left Isabel very upset when she returned home to the UK. She could not stop thinking about the animals. She decided to do something positive about the situation and began working with a number of dedicated volunteers saving street animals all over from Turkey. Isabel would fundraise, coordinate treatment, look for homes and prepare animals for adoption abroad. This in turn led her to found Help Street Cats and Dogs charity.
Animal welfare is a great passion of Isabel’s. She has her own rescue animals that are known as her four legged family. Currently her rescue animals include 2 spoiled cats, 2 goats and 56 Shetland sheep.
Isabel saved the sheep to avoid them being taken to the slaughterhouse. She is a vegan for the animals and does not purchase products which have been tested on animals or from companies who engage in animal testing.
Our objective is to promote humane behaviour towards cats and dogs in Turkey by providing appropriate care, protection, treatment and security for the animals in need.
The only hope for street cats and dogs is to be saved by an animal loving volunteer or organisation like ours. Without our assistance, they simply have no hope. We aim to:
Feed street cats and dogs through local volunteers.
Organise veterinary care for injured or sick cats and dogs.
Provide short and long term sanctuary through fosters and boarding facilities.
Help find forever homes for the rescued animals both in Turkey and abroad.
Actively promote and organise spay and neuter programmes to help manage street animal population.
To promote animal welfare and create awareness about the tragic lives of street animals in Turkey and other similar countries.
HOW WE WORK?
We work with a network of dedicated volunteers in Turkey, the USA, the UK, Canada and Europe rescuing street cats and dogs.
The volunteers send us pictures and videos, as well as vital information regarding the animal they have just rescued. They are often in need of funds for treatment, foster care or forever homes.
We then post this story on our social media platforms looking for donations, foster carers or people to adopt.
If an animal is in need of any treatment, it will immediately go into one of the clinics for a general examination; vaccinations Including a rabies shot, and will receive further care depending on the assessment by the veterinary team. If the rescue animal comes from another city, it would have to be flown to Istanbul. We coordinate the transportation of the animals between cities.
We look to place the animal in foster care or boarding facility. Sometimes the rescue animal will stay in a clinic in the absence of foster carers.
Once a forever home is found, we would arrange the pet to be flown with a flight volunteer to their adoptive homes.
WHY RESCUE IN TURKEY?
The villages, towns and cities of Turkey are full of homeless cats and dogs. The exact number is unknown, but some estimate there are several million dogs living on the streets. Many of the dogs are mixed breeds, so called mutts, whilst others are descended from the classic working dog of Turkey which is the Anatolian shepherd. The number of cats is estimated to be more than several millions.
In recent years various fads have come into style. Pet shops and other breeding facilities are producing a large number of fashionable puppies and or kittens to meet the whims of buyers, meaning people just don’t adopt the native breeds. People who acquire animals as a “fad” often dump them just as quickly after the craze passes. Animals are then often dumped in the streets, abandoned on the side of a busy road or in forests when they outgrow their welcome, perhaps grow too large or expensive to care for, or their owners suddenly become allergic.
The majority of people in Turkey does not actively spay and neuter cats and dogs. The veterinary profession does not spay or neuter a cat or dog unless it is minimum 12 months old. It is not seen as necessary to neuter male dogs and cats. The only way that street cats and dogs are spayed and neutered is if someone traps and takes them to a vet. Some local authorities will provide spaying and neutering but it still depends on members of public to take the animal in for the surgery. We have much to do in terms of creating awareness and improving people’s knowledge of the benefits of spaying and neutering cats and dogs.
Homeless cats and dogs are left to face injuries and disease without aid. Weather conditions are extreme in Turkey, with hot, dry, arid summers and freezing sub-zero winters. The vast majority of cats and dogs cannot survive without some form of human support to provide food, water and minimal shelter. In the forests, food sources are scarce and during the arid months there is no drinking water. Many dogs die from starvation and untreated injuries. Hostile people sometimes attack the dogs and there are cases where they’ve been shot, poisoned, or even raped. When the dogs appear on roads searching for food they are often killed on the roadside.
The treatment of homeless animals depends on the quality of neighbourhoods. In areas where people are better educated, compassionate or prosperous, the street animals are treated differently, with food and water or basic shelter provided. Not everyone welcomes homeless animals in their neighbourhoods. People often call the local authorities to collect the animals. Unfortunately, a lot of people think that the local authorities take the animals into a nice shelter not realising the most shelters are death camps.
Local authorities by law must provide shelters, food and medical care for the animals do not do so.
Authorities often use tranquillisers to round up the dogs to be shot, poisoned or dumped in the forests. Social media is full of examples of officials rounding up, poisoning or dumping dogs to die in forests. Some authorities do some good by taking dogs to vet clinics where they are spayed or neutered and given vaccines for rabies. A tag is then stapled to their ear and they are released back on the streets.
Environmental and planning issues in bigger cities pose a greater danger and risk .With the continued chopping off trees and the use of green spaces for the construction of buildings, leaves street animals nowhere to go. The dumping of animals in streets, forests and landfill sites continues at an alarming rate.
Cats and dogs are born into harsh and dangerous environments and many don’t live beyond few months. There are some dedicated, generous people, mainly volunteers who do their best to feed, treat and home animals often using social media for support. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough volunteers or funds to provide food and shelter or veterinary care. We can only provide help as long as we continue receive donations.