Talk about animal shelters and you’ll get different reactions from different people. From warm happy smiles to anger, tears and visions of unimaginable neglect. There are those who find the thought of visiting and animal shelter too upsetting and those who, however upsetting they find it, rush to help the many vulnerable and needy animals, giving practical, as well as financial, support.

Last week, one such volunteer, contacted Fethiye Times to highlight the desperate struggle of the animal shelter at Köyceğiz and invited us to go along for a visit. This is what we found…

The animal shelter at Köyceğiz

Saturday dawned bright and sunny after the heavy rains of the day before. Beautiful blue skies and the freshness and clarity that the day after the rain always brings. A lovely day for a road trip.

In Köyceğiz, tantalising glimpses of the lake held the promise of a post visit walk and a snack in one of the lakeside cafes.

Sat nav delivered me directly to my destination. I’d arrived!

Little did I know of the daily struggle going on behind the gate of the shelter.

Köyceğiz Animal Shelter - too many dogs, too few humans
There’s no sign of the daily struggle that goes on behind the gate

Too many dogs

The shelter opened in March 2014 with 37 dogs. It now houses 430 dogs that have been abandoned, rescued, dumped outside and even thrown over the fence.

The dogs are categorised and kept in different areas; new arrivals; small, medium-sized and large dogs; those who need to be quarantined and need medical care; puppies; unsociable dogs; quiet dogs; sponsored dogs – you get the idea.

Köyceğiz Animal Shelter - too many dogs, too few humans
New arrivals are innoculated immediately and kept separate from the other dogs for ten days to make sure they are free of disease
Köyceğiz Animal Shelter - too many dogs, too few humans
New arrivals after the first ten days
Köyceğiz Animal Shelter - too many dogs, too few humans
There are different sections for the dogs – these are the quieter dogs
Köyceğiz Animal Shelter - too many dogs, too few humans
General section
Köyceğiz Animal Shelter - too many dogs, too few humans
One of the indoor kennel areas
Köyceğiz Animal Shelter - too many dogs, too few humans
This is the section where the puppies are kept
Köyceğiz Animal Shelter - too many dogs, too few humans
The gate from the puppy area to the main compound
Köyceğiz Animal Shelter - too many dogs, too few humans
The quarantine and hospital sections need to be updated and have enclosing walls built to stop the spread of disease

Fethiye Times at the Köyceğiz Animal Shelter from Lyn Ward on Vimeo.

The shelter operates a strict ‘no kill’ policy, refusing to euthanize healthy animals however challenging it is to rehouse them. Many of the dogs will live out the rest of their days at the shelter.

Köyceğiz Animal Shelter - too many dogs, too few humans
This dog can barely move but spends her days happily laying on her bed outside the puppy area, watching everything that goes on
Köyceğiz Animal Shelter - too many dogs, too few humans
This puppy was left with a tic after having had distemper but was lucky enough to find a home this week

The shelter is set on land near to the lake at Köyceğiz, a location that brings a whole set of problems of its own.

The ground has no drainage and, as a result, the rains leave most of the shelter waterlogged and the dogs’ living spaces filled with mud.

Köyceğiz Animal Shelter - too many dogs, too few humans
The rains leave waterlogged areas

Some kennels have been raised up on pallets or wooden platforms that have been donated or built by volunteers but generally, at this time of year, the dogs spend their time in muddy pens, some of which is stagnant and vile smelling.

Köyceğiz Animal Shelter - too many dogs, too few humans
The dogs spend their time in muddy pens
Köyceğiz Animal Shelter - too many dogs, too few humans
Another muddy pen – it’s even less fun if you’re a small dog

The summer brings its own problems. The shelter struggles to offer shade to dogs in allocates areas with no trees.

The shelter also has a problem with rats.

Too few humans

Köyceğiz Animal Shelter - too many dogs, too few humans
Sarah, Mukkades, Hakan and Hasan work at the shelter

If you were asked to guess how many people work at the shelter, you’d probably guess wrongly. There are only eight:

Two Belediye workers, Hasan & Ismail, work six days a week and carry out cleaning and repairs

Mukaddes Paulsen (Chairperson) volunteers one day a week at the weekend. Mukaddes is the main Belediye contact and Turkish liaison.

Sarah Browne (Deputy Chairperson and shelter Manager) volunteers four days a week. Sarah is also the English liaison and manages English social media, donations, adoptions, sponsorship and carries out general duties.

Hakan Paulsen (Medicine Man) volunteers six days a week and administers medicines, vaccinations etc. The shelter can only afford to use the vet for more serious conditions and where an operation is needed.

Evelyn Girod volunteers two mornings a week, poop scooping, feeding puppies and general cleaning.

Sybil (Secretary/Treasurer) volunteers every Wednesday.

Nurdan started last week and volunteers four days looking after the hospital, quarantine, sick new arrivals and puppy areas.

Monthly volunteer visits

There are various groups of volunteers who visit the shelter to help with cleaning, repair the dog kennels and pens and generally help out wherever is needed. They also bring donations of food and other essential items.

Groups from Içmeler and Marmaris, Kayaköy, Fethiye and Hisarönü arrange monthly trips for people who want to help. The next trip from Fethiye is on Sunday 18th March 2018. Please contact Tracy Coglan if you would like to go along and help out.

Köyceğiz Animal Shelter - too many dogs, too few humans
The group of volunteers from Fethiye and Hisarönü who were at the shelter last Saturday
Köyceğiz Animal Shelter - too many dogs, too few humans
Volunteers building new kennels out of pallets
Köyceğiz Animal Shelter - too many dogs, too few humans
Digging a trench for the water to run away
Köyceğiz Animal Shelter - too many dogs, too few humans
Volunteers also carry out general tidying up and cleaning

Not enough money

For the first two years, the shelter had no official help of any kind. Two years ago, the shelter applied for, and was awarded, non-profit charitable status.

The Belediye currently provide 210 x 15 kg bags of food a month. This is not guaranteed and could be stopped at any time.  It is enough to feed the adult dogs for 21 days. The remainder, as well as tinned food, puppy food (pasta, rice, chicken) is all funded by donations.

The shelter also relies heavily on donations to pay for innoculations, medication, vet bills, cleaning materials, building materials and tradesmen (there are some jobs they just can’t do for themselves).

There is still so much to do and the shelter desperately needs your help.

How can you help?

Volunteer at the shelter

Make a cash donatation

Donate items to be sold or auctioned

Hold a fundraising event

Adopt a dog and give it a home. If you’re not in a position to adopt a dog, you can sponsor one instead.

How does the Sponsorship Program work?

Choose the dog you would like to sponsor.

The costs are:

100TL for food for the first month (pasta, rice, conserve, chicken and biscuits.

Second month onwards (unless very thin or ill) – 50TL for one bag of biscuits per month. You can supply other food too if you wish.

Spaying or neutering – one-off cost of 90TL

Vaccinations (Distemper/Rabies/Kennel Cough/Bronchitis) – 40TL each. The shelter requires distemper and rabies as a minimum.

The sponsored dog needs a kennel at a cost of 200 TL (one-off payment).  Both the name of the sponsor and the dog is painted on the kennel, which will be their home for the duration of their stay at the shelter.

Köyceğiz Animal Shelter - too many dogs, too few humans
The sponsored dogs have their own area

Adopt a dog from Turkey

You can also adopt a dog from Turkey and have it transported to your home in the UK or other countries. Details of the scheme can be found on the shelters’ Facebook group, details below.

Köyceğiz Animal Shelter - too many dogs, too few humans
This lucky fellow has been adopted by a family in the UK

A whole lot of love

The shelter may not have enough helpers or money, but there is one thing it has in spades – LOVE!

The end of our visit

That brings us to the end of our visit to the Köyceğiz Animal Shelter for today. It may be the end of our visit but we hope it’s the beginning of more help and support for Sarah and the team who, against all the odds, do an absolutely incredible job.

For more information or to contact the shelter, please visit them on Facebook.

 

 

6 COMMENTS

  1. Well done for highlighting this cause. I’m a volunteer from Icmeler/Marmaris and we have monthly trips to help out. There are never enough volunteers to do all the work, the Shelter needs more people who are able to help out each day, even for a couple of hours. Yes it can be upsetting at times, I can’t say it isn’t, to see so many dogs who have been let down by so called humans but they are well cared for, fed and more importantly LOVED. The dogs pay you back with appreciative tails, wet kisses and eyes full of love. I go home to my dog and I tell her how lucky she is! Please, please help out by volunteering if you can or support with donations and food. You won’t regret it.

    • Thank you Chris. The work being done there is amazing but they do need help and funds to improve the conditions. I experienced the love the dogs give for myself and would highly recommend that people visit and experience it for themselves.

  2. We have to come from Icmeler (over an hour away – longer if we don’t hire a minibus) because there is such a lack of volunteers. Unbelievably, no one comes from the local Koycegiz area. How Sarah goes in day after day is amazing. We only go once a month & feel overwhelmed sometimes. So many dogs needing medical treatment but no funds. Marmaris shelter have a resident vet (or 2!) unlike its poor relation in Koycegiz. Even puppy milk & food has to have money raised. Decking is slowly being built to keep the dogs off the thick, wet mud but again, every little area has to be fund-raised. Yes the dogs are loved & cared for but with more funds; their quality of life could be so improved.

  3. Thank you for the write-up Lyn. Us volunteers from Icmeler go to Koycegiz once a month. It takes over an hour to get there – longer if we can’t hire a minibus. Sadly, there are no volunteers from the local area & Sarah is desperate for help. How she goes in day after day is amazing. Our monthly visit has us overwhelmed sometimes. A lot of it comes down to money. We have to fund-raise for everything – even much-need puppy milk & food. Decking is slowly being built to keep the dogs off the wet, stinking mud but it stalls until we can raise the next lot of money for wood. There are many animals needing vetinary care (the urgent ones are seen to, with mounting Vet bills). Unlike Marmaris shelter, which has a resident Vet; every visit costs money. Dogs are regularly dumped at the gates (even thrown over the fences at times!); the state of them would have you howling – so thin, you wonder how they manage to walk; broken limbs; terrible skin conditions etc but Sara never turns them away. Yes, these dogs are loved but their living conditions & health could be so much improved with funding & help.

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