“Stray Dogs”: A Phenomenon Causing Fear and Division in Turkey

The debate in Turkey is intensifying regarding the phenomenon of stray dogs, which are spreading in major Turkish cities, especially Istanbul, causing fear among citizens and visitors due to the increasing incidents of bites and traffic problems.

According to semi-official statistics, the number of these dogs is estimated at around 4 million, but government officials, including the Minister of Agriculture, mentioned about two years ago that the actual number is estimated to be around 10 million dogs, a phenomenon that requires urgent solutions from the authorities with the increase in cases of “rabies,” which the World Health Organization classifies as “high risk.”

Experts warn that the number of traffic accidents caused by dogs has reached 3,544 incidents in Turkey over the past five years, in addition to “55 deaths” and more than 5,000 injuries.

Animal protection activists assert that the Turkish government was supposed to open about 1,500 centers for the vaccination and sterilization of these dogs in 2004, but it did not do so.

Conversely, other associations seeking to protect citizens are trying to convince the authorities to implement what is called the “Dog-Free Streets” project by enacting a law allowing the combatting of the spread of stray dogs throughout Turkey, which has met with criticism.

The controversial bill stipulates the capture of a large number of dogs, their neutering, and the insertion of electronic chips under their skin, and their euthanasia within 30 days if not adopted.

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