Turkey adopts new animal welfare law – a step forward

In the coming days, a long-awaited animal rights bill will be presented to the Turkish parliament, calling for prison sentences for anyone who kills, abuses or tortures animals.

The final bill was submitted to the ruling Justice and Development Party (President Recep Tayyip Erdogan AKP) on June 8th, 2021, and is expected to come into force on July 1st, 2021.

With the aim of curbing the incidents of violence against animals, some of which have even made headlines in recent years, the expected law will define animals as “living beings” and not as “goods” as under current law.

In the new law, which is supposed to take into account the requirements of current values, citizens and NGOs, the name will initially be changed. It is planned to rename the previous “Animal Welfare Act” to “Animal Rights Act”.
A specially trained animal police are to be used.

A man sits with cats on a street in Istanbul, Turkey, January 7, 2018. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

Should the law pass, imprisonment for crimes against animals will range from six months to four years, which is long enough to effectively block opportunities for a person to be released on bail or converted into a fine.

In addition to imprisonment for the sexual abuse of animals, a judicial sentence of at least 100 days is imposed.

In addition, burning or destroying wetlands, which are considered habitats for wildlife, can be severely punished.

Prosecutors can initiate investigations ex officio without a written application or complaint if a person is caught “in the act” in crimes against animals.

Currently, any crime against animals is punishable by mild fines, and the courts have made penalties too light in some particularly brutal cases.

If a pet is abandoned on the street by its owner, the bill could face a fine of up to 2,000 Turkish lira (US $ 232), writes Hurriyetdailynews.

Two stray dogs rest in front of the Aliaga Prison and Courthouse complex in Izmir, Turkey October 12, 2018. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

In addition, the law mandates the sterilization of all stray animals in three years, with the municipalities tasked with this task, including setting up animal shelters, providing rehabilitation services and administering vaccinations.
Practices such as euthanizing animals that live on the street will be discontinued.
Pets are also tagged with a microchip so that they can be properly identified.

Owning, importing, buying, selling, promoting, exchanging or giving gifts to dangerous breeds of dogs and crossbreeds such as Pitbull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro is prohibited.

Owners of animals of dangerous breeds can care for their existing pets until they die, provided the animal is registered and sterilized.

These breeds are not allowed to walk without a leash and must wear a muzzle. In addition, they are prevented from entering places such as parks and gardens where children are present, in the event of complaints from the animal police.

In addition, the sale of animals in the pet shops will be stopped.

Serious restrictions also apply to laboratory animals.


Additional information on the topic: Such a tightening of the law has been discussed for years.
The final push came from social media, where harsh examples of the abuse of cats and dogs are circulating:

-dogs whose paws and tails have been cut off;
-a cat wrapped in duct tape;
-Cats with their ears cut off.
So far, the perpetrators have only threatened fines, if at all, because animals were considered “things”.
That is why there will soon be an animal police, the law has just been passed. The police should track down animal abusers who can be punished far more severely in the future than before.

A large poster is already hanging on Istanbul’s Galata Tower, which is one of the main attractions for tourists: It says that the space in front of the tower also belongs to street animals, i.e. cats and dogs, according to law number 5199.
Which is why one shouldn’t hinder the feeding and not harm the animals in any other way.

Many dogs already have a button in their ear as a sign that they have been sterilized and vaccinated. In the future, this should happen in general, the municipalities are responsible for it.

In anticipation of the new law – and after years of protests – horse-drawn carriages have now been abolished on the Istanbul Princes’ Islands.
The city administration has decided to buy their horses and licenses from the coachmen, in future there will only be electric cabs.

Wait until the café opens and then there will be cuddles – Café Naftalin in Balat/Istanbul

The real stars, however, remain Istanbul’s cats.
There are also street signs for them.
Then a black silhouette and the warning: Attention! Free running cat!

The Turkish animal rights activists are happy, they had repeatedly complained that many horses were poorly cared for and that there was a lack of veterinary care.

We are also pleased about the positive development of the animal welfare law in Turkey, and we welcome that too.

My best regards to all, Venus

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