Sunday, April 16, 2006
ANKARA - TDN Parliament Bureau
A sickening smell had been emanating from Ankara's Mamak garbage dump. It was impossible not to detect this odor, which surpassed the normal odor of decaying waste. Following complaints by residents, it emerged that the horrible smell was that of the rotting bodies of dogs that had been killed and piled up there. The dogs, both big and small, had literally been massacred, either poisoned or beaten, and deposited. It became clear that this mass slaughter had taken place in May, and that it included hundreds of dogs. But what sort of humanity was it that was responsible for these deaths? It was clear that this was an organized act. What's more, before long, news of dog massacres in other regions of Turkey began to filter in. It was as though an invisible hand had pressed some sort of button and the killing of these dogs had commenced. The scene in Mamak was unspeakable... With the Animal Protection and Survival Foundation at the head, animal rights groups converged immediately on the Mamak dump. One middle-aged woman was unable to hold back her tears as she touched the bodies of dead puppies. Another animal rights member spoke in outraged tones about this crime "outside of humanity." While this was going on, news about dog massacres in other parts of Turkey was mounting, and at this point, even Europe was up in arms. Anger was growing towards what had happened...
A protest in Ankara: There was a protest march in Ankara that week. In Tandog(an Square, there was a "Who is my murderer?" march held by the Animal Rights Active Cooperation Platform of Turkey. People brought their pet dogs to the march. Foundation representative Filiz Esen spoke, warning that if the violence against street animals was not curbed, soon humans would be the victims of the same violence. Esen placed the blame on municipalities. Film star Sibel Kekilli came to the support of the animal rights groups, noting that while nine out 10 people were devoted to human rights, it wouldn't be out of place to have at least one person agitating for animal rights.
Punishments to be increased: On the same day as the protests, a bill was sent to the Turkish Parliament for debate and approval. The bill calls for larger fines for those found guilty of mistreating animals in a variety of situations. Some of the changes as a result of this bill are as follows: *The fine for animal owners failing to take proper responsibility for the procreation of the pets they feed and care for will go from YTL 250 to YTL 300. *Pet owners failing to take proper precautions with regard to the health of other humans, animals and environs will be charged a fine of YTL 200. *The unlawful killing of street animals (outside the parameters specified by the Animal Health Law) will face a fine of YTL 600, up from YTL 500. *Those found guilty of trying to destroy a group of animals will be fined YTL 10,000 per animal, up from the previous YTL 7,500. *Those using animals in unscientific experiments or trials will be fined YTL 1,200. Those engaging in the unlawful trade or sale of animals will be fined YTL 3,000, up from the previous fine of YTL 2,500. *Those using training methods that needlessly cause pain to animals will face a fine of YTL 1,500, up from the previous fine of YTL 1,250. *Butchers failing to observe the laws of hygiene and basic humanity in their work will be fined YTL 600, up from YTL 500. *The killing of young, pregnant, or nursing animals for anything other than medical or scientific purposes will incur a fine of YTL 600 per animal. *Deliberate cruelty towards animals as well as the deliberate killing of animals or the encouragement of others to kill animals will carry a penalty of YTL 300. *The breeding, ownership, sale, advertisement or bringing into Turkey of such dangerous breeds as the pit bull terrier or the Japanese tosa will carry a fine of YTL 3,000 per animal. *Operators of vehicles that hit and injure animals will be required to then transport that animal to the nearest veterinarian. Those failing to abide by this stipulation will be fined YTL 300. *The fine for mistreating animals in zoo situations will go up from YTL 600 to YTL 700 per animal.
But will this be enough? At first glance, it is difficult to object to the above increases in fines for the mistreatment of animals. But whether these minor increases in fines will be enough of a deterrent is difficult to say. In the end, the fine for the unlawful killing of street animals would only be increased by YTL 100, from YTL 500 to YTL 600. Animal rights groups are also worried that the fines will go straight into the coffers of the municipalities. And will this, they ask, "really prevent future massacres of animals in Turkey?"