Animal Friends of Turkey (AFOT) began in May 2018 and since then we have seen Turkish animal rights steadily changing for the worse. The pandemic hit all charities hard, but combined with an incomprehensible transport ban prohibiting charities from transporting dogs from Turkey to the UK, our job became almost impossible.
Just when we thought things couldn’t get worse, after an awful attack on a 4 year old child by two pit bulls, December 2021 saw President Erdogan enforcing a new law to cruelly and callously round up ALL street dogs. These dogs were then dumped in the most horrific disease ridden, filthy shelters – death camps – or taken to isolated areas without food or water and left to starve. There were mass burials of dogs who had been drugged and buried alive.
The Turkish President was forced to retract the law due to public outcry as it was in fact against their own laws and the Muslim religion which says that dogs have “a right to roam” and that locals should feed and care for them, ironically making the streets a place of safety. Tragically, it was too late for hundreds and hundreds of dogs who had already been brutally slaughtered.
A “Banned Breed” list still remains and owners of dogs on it were given just one month to have their dogs chipped, registered, neutered and muzzled, or face a fine in excess of £1000. This led to many dogs being abandoned, all of which are being barbarically rounded up by the Turkish authorities. These dogs having lost their homes and unable to leave the country are destined only to a life of suffering in these Turkish death camps.
Incredibly, dogs that remotely resemble a bull breed even though not on the banned list, are also being cast out due to the ignorance of their owners. Breeds that are cherished here in the UK. One such breed is the Boxer dog and there has been an influx of Boxers being found abandoned, terrified, starved, totally unprepared for life on the streets. Some have been used for breeding and are in horrific condition having lived the whole of their lives in cruel breeding farms churning out litter after litter, now no longer needed due to lack of demand.
Boxer dogs are a gentle, playful breed, extremely loyal and good with children, often described as the ‘Peter Pan’ of dogs, they live their whole lives as puppies, and are a breed particularly dear to a number of the AFOT committee. Since we began in 2018 AFOT had taken in just three Boxers. In the last month we have taken in six. All were severely emaciated, full of disease and the bitches had been repeatedly bred.
Our Patron, Samantha Hutchinson, launched a platform specifically to give small non-profit charities like ours a voice. There are thousands of charities across the world who don’t get heard against the larger animal charities with their legions of staff and media machines behind them forcing them to the forefront. We are run by a group of six volunteers across two countries who do everything in their power, but it’s never enough. Sam’s platform would help us reach more people and we, along with a small number of animal charities were asked to the Power of One launch event at Church House in London, which raised over £40,000 for charities across the world.
Carol Holbrook, our Founder & Chair, gave a moving speech and we launched our own campaign to raise £6000 to help these six dogs which went onto the Power of One website. AFOT was the first of the campaigns launched that night to reach our target.
This money helped with the treatment of these dogs which as you will see below, is quite the journey which will continue until they are finally with their very own loving Forever Homes where they can leave their past behind forever.