Friday, 5 August 2011


The way that dogs live in Turkey is something that I find distressing.  In all my 13 years here, I have never been able to get used to the numbers of dogs starving and dying on the streets.  In my early days here, I adopted a number of dogs, had them vaccinated, kept them for a while and then Mr A found homes for them.

Since then, finances have not allowed me to do more...although my regular followers know I've taken in three more since we moved here but couldn't manage to keep them.  However we gave them a good start and Mr A found a home for them.

My own two dogs, Beki and Poppy, were also rescued.  Beki almost 10 years ago at 2 weeks old, and Poppy 18 months may well have seen the "before and after" photos of her on here.

Foreigners come here, see what's happening, and with initial good intentions, try to do what they can to help. They set up dog shelters, raise money to feed the strays and to pay for veterinery treatment.  But it's just the tip of the iceberg.   The best run shelters operate a mass sterilisation programme and return the dogs to the streets.  It's better than herding them all into one place, where they will starve through lack of money, and suffer long lingering death through disease.

Sadly, some of these shelters are so badly run that the dogs would be far better back out on the streets.  The video in this post is an example.

The Turkish Animal Group (T:A.G)  is run by Karen Lowrie Wren.   Karen has worked tirelessly and unselfishly for 9 years to address the problem.  She has relied on donations, and a considerable amount of her own money, to rescue dogs, get them speyed and vaccinated and eventually to be adopted by people here and abroad.

She has also been visiting some of the shelters and secretly filmed the following video.   You can hear the frustration and distress in her voice, when her requests to take some of the dogs for adoption is refused.  I warn those of you who care about the welfare of animals, that this video is hard to watch.

sopen izmir

click on the above link if the video doesn't open on here
If you feel that you can do anything at all to help, please visit Karen's Facebook page here.


To all those people posting nasty vindictive comments and personal attacks on either Karen or myself who also hide behind "Anonymous" because they don't have the courage to reveal themselves.   Don't waste your time.   Your posts will be deleted.   My Blog = my choice.


  1. I watched the video… but I know… while I lived in Istanbul for a short time, the street dogs were among my keenest interests… and also the source of some of my most satisfying friendships. One dog, a lanky black dog with the blue chip in her ear, adopted me for a time. She would follow me home along a path on the campus where I taught. I would feed her whatever I had around my kitchen… I remember now the plastic pail I would set out for her… for Juli, I named her Juli… and in my loneliness in Istanbul, I think I loved and appreciated her more than any single person I came across. And she made me ache for my old dog I had to leave behind in the U.S. for the time. I hope Juli is safe and sound, she was a survivor for sure. Now I am reunited with my Ria, and the next move abroad she will be with me. Just reading your post, I went into my storage thing and brought up the most charming picture of Juli, and it is now on my desktop. And now maybe a tear. I shed a tear for these Turkish dogs. Köpek :(

  2. Anonymous: I have also shed tears for these dogs. They demand so little and in return give so much. Is it so hard for people to realise this? How lovely that you befriended Juli and she in turn gave you companionship for a while. Thanks for your comment xx

  3. What a sad, sad thing to be a stray dog in this world. We have a actual puppy breeding mill down the street (out in the woods where no one can see) from our house and the conditions there are terrible but animal control will do nothing because the owners do just enough to stay within their legal rights.

  4. İ don't understand why people come to a country and find all the negative things to complain about. Does anyone of you think about the poor animals that get slaughtered and put to sleep in their own countries? we are working very hard in turkey and not just the foreigners İ have many Turkish friends working to help all the animals and we have had many laws changed to the benefit of all the animals and Turkey has one of the most comprehensive animal protection laws in the world. We appreciate any help from anyone who wants to help but please do not cast stones when you live in a glass house!!

  5. There are regular cheap castration programmes in this area...and it has cleared some of the problem but we have just been acquired by two new dogs....mum who brought her baby pup...whose 'owner' can well afford to have her dogs neutered, but will not spend the money...any more than she will give proper feed or care.
    Another mum and pup pair came earlier - very old mum and middle aged pup. Sadly, mum died not long ago, but pup 1 is still with us...and the 'owner' cannot understand why he won't return to her.

    Education works...but I feel sick at heart for animals without someone to care for them.

  6. I forgot...there's a super animal adoption blog on my blog by a Costa Rican lady.
    No phoney fund raising, no heart on sleeve and eye on the main chance - she does a great job.

  7. Mr H: Its a sad fact of life that cruelty to and neglect of animals happens all over the world :-(

    best Friends. Thankyou for your comment. I didn't come to Turkey to complain about all the negative things. If you took the trouble to read more of my blog rather than just one post, you will see that this is not the case and that I give a very balanced view of life here. And when you refer to "your own country" I wonder what you mean? I am by marriage a Turkish national, for 13 years this is "my country".
    I don't live in a "glass house" nor do I cast stones. You are judging me without any knowledge or facts of what I actually do to help.
    I posted about Karen because I admire the work she does. I know there are also others who do as much, but there are a lot who are totally out of their depth, and although their intentions are good, they do the animals here no favours.
    Perhaps you would like to give me a link to information about the work you do and I will gladly publicise it on my blog.

    Fly: Education is the key. Everyone can do it in their own way. I encourage the children of this village, and have elsewhere in other areas where we've lived, to make friends with and get to know my dogs, and to respect all animals. These kids have had fear of dogs instilled in them by their parents, so it's heartwarming to see them taking an interest and being kind to dogs rather than screaming and throwing stones.

    I hav a feelin you once mentioned the Costa Rican lady to me...great work!

  8. Considering there are thousands of animal shelters in Turkey and only a couple of these are run by foreigners, we can assume that taking care of stray animals is nothing unique to the christian immigrants.

    Btw. I wonder why there are not any stray dogs in the christian world? Might that be because they killed all the stray animals years ago?

  9. Meczup: I wouldn't know...I'm not a christian.

  10. Ayak: Did I say You are christian?

  11. Meczup: Indeed you didn't..but you asked questions...and I answered. I respond to all comments on here, unless of course some people just want to argue or split hairs, in which case I wouldn't waste my time further. Thankyou for your comments.

  12. I saw that's simply appaling. When I visit Turkey my daughter and I have cried more then once.
    Where my Mother/in/law lived there was a few strays. One day when we were in Migros we found some dog food and cat food. Well the cats would eat it when we set it out in bowls near the garden....but the dogs wouldn't touch it (the dog food). My husband said that they are not hungry b/c people have been feeding them.

    One of the neighbours had a Siberian Husky i Izmir, I have one here.....well they kept it couped up in a small apt...........with no A/C. well I know that Huskies have heavy coats and like to run...well this dog was giving me a bigger headache then the street strays. dogs here are all rescue dogs from abused homes...I never get any from those pet shops. They are always the most caring and loving dogs, like they understand that you took them in and are extremly thankful.....
    Thank you for sharing this post.

  13. Erica: To be fair, athough a lot of Turks don't like or are afraid of dogs, many do feed the strays. Unfortunately there are 1000s that suffer. There are people, such as Karen who are doing what they can, but it's a huge problem. My own feeling is that apart from people like Karen being allowed to put some dogs up for adoption, the best solution is for a mass sterilisation programme..but at the end of the days it all comes down to money.

  14. Karen should go to a news agency with that video. If this goes public I'm sure the dogs there will receive better care.

  15. Anonymous: It will happen.

  16. The following comment was received by email due to problems posting so I have copied and pasted as follows:

    Stupid Brian said...

    I had been living in Turkey for many years now and in that time l found the behaviour towards the animals from the Turkish people absolutely dreadful without showing any once of respect.When l took my dogs out for a walk,l was shouted at and even had stones thrown at my dogs,l was even threatened a couple of times not to have my dogs walk in certain areas.Even on my own private property l had people walking by throwing stones at my dogs inside the gate and they just laughed.Turkey is a hell hole when one has animals because that is how they want you to feel.The many friends l had that were physically and verbally abused by Turkish people because they didn’t like the dog in the area was a nightmare which in some cases gone to the courts and nothing was done except paying out more money to a worthless system that sides with the aggressor.

    The problem lye's with their learned culture that seems to teach generations not to respect the animals and the environment.Since this culture is also based on religious grounds,then that means this culture is going against Gods is very clear in the bible and the Koran,that Gods laws says that all living creatures and the natural environment should be taken care of with a behaviour of respect and to instigate a love that will promote a harmony with humans and animals living together.lf they show no respect and decide to install acts of cruelty that leads to suffering,then what they are doing is violating one of Gods law and therefore they are guilty of sinning against God.This culture is siding with evil and is condemned by God.

    I remember a Turkish Vet saying dogs are natures trash.”Well”,excuse me Mr Vet,but you as the animal doctor should be thinking of caring and respecting the animals not condemning them by calling them trash.Also this vet has really been insulting Gods creation as trash.Everything that God created is beautiful in it’s own way with the animals in the right places.

    It is man that has upset the balance of nature by installing cruel policies and selfishly abusing Gods creation that has caused all these is man that has created the trash..Not God.The Turkish system has got a lot to learn about how so important it is to be in harmony with the animals and the surrounding area’s of nature.Once Turkey gets away from this distorted culture[which man has taught ongoing generations to go against Gods laws] then the problem will no longer exist.The animals will not suffer and the communities will not be plagued by packs of dogs..simple really,but a stream of hardcore mind sets are very difficult to change.

  17. Brian: Clearly your experiences of the Turkish attitude towards you and your dogs had been vastly different to mine, and I'm really sorry that you have had to put up with this treatment.
    Of course I have encountered fear from people in relation to my dogs, and on or two who on occasions raised their hands as if to strike the dog or picked up stones to throw. But I have stopped them dead in their tracks.

    A lot of it is based on ignorance and lack of understanding, but also that people in Europe and other countries have a much higher respect for dogs than the Turks do. However, they are not all like this I can assure you.

    As I mentioned in a previous comment, I feel we should start with the children..teach them gentleness and respect towards animals..they are the future generations..only then can change begin to take place.

    When my Turkish in-laws first came to stay, they were terrified of our dogs, but given time and reassurance from me, they are now quite fond of them.

    Thanks for your comment Brian x

  18. I'm sorry that I cannot watch the video because I get too upset by animal cruelty and sometimes think about it in the night so that I cannot sleep.
    I really don't know what the answers to these problems are.
    Educating people when they are young?
    I was always brought up to care for & look after animals from an early age.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

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  26. It seems this is a v controversial post. I agree 100% with whatever Ayak says. She is so reasonable and also objective. People here in Turkey have no idea of how to treat pets or when they have them, how to train them. When they become difficult, chucking them out of the car window seems to be the easiest way of handling the problem. I have lived in this country for more than 30 years so this observation is not lightly made. It will take a long time to change the mentality re pets here. I for one find it really hard to understand why the belediyes allow packs of dogs to terrorise neighbourhoods in Istanbul because on the whole, Turks are afraid of dogs.That is not right.I'm afraid there is a long way to go before the situation is resolved. A handful of doglovers cannot hope to change things overnight much as I wish they could.

  27. To all those "Anonymous" people out there..whose posts have been deleted...please read the note in red in my blog post. Thankyou x

  28. Maggie: I was also brought up the same way. And yes I do believe education is part of the solution xx

    Claudia: Thankyou so much for your comment. I'm glad of your support. After so many years living here, you know exactly what you're talking about.
    It will I fear take years to resolve this problem...if ever xx

  29. I love all my pets like children but sometimes we have to remember that animals are animals and I honestly believe these dogs would be better off being destroyed instead of living like this.

  30. Hi Linda, Thank you very much for posting this video on your blog and supporting the work i do in tukey,
    I and im sorry people decided to come along here and write untrue things that have infact nothing to do with the welfare and Rescue of Animals..
    I intend to go much further with this as i had been rescuing over the Weekend and not long home.
    So i can now give my time to sit and put this to the Media, Thanks Everyone , Karen Wren x

  31. This comment is from someone called Neesen which I am happy to publish:

    "Neesen said:
    4 years ago this shelter was a nightmare .. good to see that some improvements have been made since the shelter has been receiving help from the German organisation. Obviously it will take time."

    My response to Neesen: I have had to copy and paste your comment to enable me to delete the details you gave for donations. I am not willing to post up such details on my blog as I cannot verify them.
    But in response to your comment. I dread to think what the shelter was like 4 years ago as it pretty much looks to be a nightmare now. I am very concerned about why you won't release dogs for adoption..surely this would help, even in a small way.

  32. Kelloggsville: I have also said the same thing. To see so many dogs sufering this way, and knowing that it's impossible to save them all, to humanely euthanise those who can't be saved would be the kindest thing.

    Animal Mad: You're welcome Karen. Keep up the good work xxx

  33. This comment attracted my attention. "Btw. I wonder why there are not any stray dogs in the christian world? Might that be because they killed all the stray animals years ago?"

    I am not exactly sure what the poster was trying to say about the religious aspects but I think she/he misses the point completely.

    In a perfect world all stray cats and dogs would find a home, be loved and well kept, but that seems an unattainable goal. We can't even do this with our children.

    What is most important is that if we cannot find the perfect answer to this problem then we, at least, find the most humane. It is merely cruelty to allow strays to suffer from ill-treatment and neglect and unspeakable pain instead making the hard choice of euthanasia. It might make people feel good when they leave water and food out for strays but in my opinion is, for a lot of people, a self-serving gesture.

    While it might solve the short term misery of one animal, it is really only an temporary interruption of the suffering. It reminds me of leaving the stale bread hanging out by the garbage can, which I suppose is an act of generosity and charity to the poor. I still don't know if I've got the logic of that.

    For the long term, I would prefer sterilization to end the cycle of homeless stray pets. Putting unwanted animals to sleep may seem cruel to some- indeed it is an unfortunate situation- but the alternatives are even worse.

  34. Nomad I wholeheartedly agree with everything you say. The priority here has to be mass sterilization in the first instance. I als believe that those animals who are sick and dying should be euthanised. Although on a personal level ı can't bear to think of any animal bein destroyed, equally I can't bear suffering of any kind. Education is also a way forward.
    I will always support the work that Karen does. I know she would be the first to admit that what she does in rescuing and getting dogs adopted, is just a small ripple in a huge pond, but at least she is doing something...making a difference to a few dogs at least. She has to be commended for that.


I love getting comments, but don't feel obliged...I'm just happy you're reading my blog.

Posts are moderated to avoid spam, so if you post under "Anonymous",leave your name at the end of your comment so that I know it's a "real" person!.

If you would like to help my rescue dogs and the strays (dogs and cats) of our village and local industrial estate, please email me for details at Thankyou x