Fethiye Friends of Animals Association was founded in 2000 by Mrs. Perihan Agnelli the President of the Association. In this article she writes about the aims of the organisation,  the work carried out and the great support received. 

Fethiye Friends of Animals Association was founded in 2000 by Mrs. Perihan Agnelli the President of the Association. In this article she writes about the aims of the organisation,  the work carried out and the great support received. 

The Animal Centre comprises 43 hectares of eucalyptus forest and leased by the Fethiye Municipality from the Forestry Ministry.

It is located on the road 15 kms before Uzumlu and 2 kms from the main Mugla/Antalya road.

All the buildings in the centre were built by the Municipality (local council).

The Centre is open from 8am to 5pm daily.
 
What Do We Do?

The aims of the Association are to reduce the numbers of stray dogs in Fethiye and surrounding villages by collecting the dogs from the streets and taking them to the Animal Centre for sterilisation, utilizing a program called Neuter and Return.

The animal is also vaccinated against rabies and treated against parasites and any other diseases that the Veterinary Surgeon may find.

An ear-tag is inserted and following the animal’s recovery, it is released back to the area where it had been collected from.

Innovative Solution

This is the crux of Neuter and Return.

For the program to be successful, the animal must be returned back to its habitat within a short time.

This then prevents another untreated dog from occupying its territory.

{mosimage}The collection of dogs and simply putting them into compounds does not clear the dogs from the streets as other dogs will always find a place to occupy.

There are many shelters in Turkey where dogs are not returned, resulting in overcrowding and unhealthy conditions for the dogs.

In one instance, over 5,000 dogs are in one shelter.

The program has to be sustained for a minimum of 5 years for it to be successful.

Since its introduction in 2000 there are now no more untreated stray dogs roaming the streets of Fethiye, and those that are there are tagged and healthy and no longer pose a health problem for the population. 

If anyone should find an abandoned animal we would be grateful if they bring it to our Centre. 

Education, Education, Education

The program also required the education of the local population by explanation of the project through local television and newspaper articles, which we have done extensively in the past, and the co-operation of the people in understanding that the dogs must be allowed to return to the streets.

This is not to say that any wild or dangerous dog will be allowed back on the street.

The education aspect also requires people to understand why a dog should be neutered.

A street dog is not a breed of dog but the result of privately owned dogs being allowed to roam and then breed with another dog he finds.

If people were to neuter their dogs and also stop them from roaming then there would be very few street dogs now.  

In April 2001 we bought a Mobile Clinic through sponsorships as we were being constantly called for our help at other towns and cities in other regions of Turkey.

We traveled for 5 years with a driver and 2 vets and visited 50  places where we neutered their stray animals and at the same time educated these municipalities of the need for Neuter and Return.

We had to meet the costs, including medicines and travel.  

Attitudes Differ

Turkish attitude and opinion is that dogs should be allowed to mate and have litters saying it is their natural right.

In fact they say it is a sin to neuter an animal.

The problem we are facing today is that these people bring their unwanted litters to our Centre expecting us to take care of their litter.

We have to try and find homes for them or look after them for the rest of their lives because they can never be released to the street, never having learned to fend for themselves.

Also privately owned dogs are brought to us as their owners do not want them anymore.

These animals cannot be released to the street as they have no territory to live and would only go back to their owner’s house.

We have no other choice but to feed and look after them in the centre until they can be re-homed.

Tough New Penalties

{mosimage}It was never our Association’s aim to look after privately owned animals.

Since it is so difficult to educate people I have decided to convince the Fethiye Municipality to make an announcement that private dogs by Law are prohibited to be allowed to run free.

Any dog that is found on the street without its owner will be caught and brought to the Centre where it will be neutered.

If the owner wants his dog back he will have to pay a fine to the Municipality.

Following on from our success in Fethiye, I had numerous meetings over a period of 3 years with the Environment Ministry in Ankara and explained the advantages of Neuter and Return.

The Turkish Animal Protection Law came into being in 2004 and its provisions now include a requirement for all municipalities in Turkey to adopt their own Neuter and Return programs for their stray animals.

Collecting them into shelters is forbidden.  

Funding Crisis Avoided

At the beginning our work was funded through European Animal Welfare organizations but now that Turkey has the Animal Protection Law, our sponsors directed that funding should be the responsibility of the Turkish Government.

Consequently our sponsorship stopped one year ago.

Unfortunately, the Turkish Government has not provided a budget for the Law, so I approached the Fethiye mayor, Mr. Behcet Saatci and explained our financial position to him. 

He was very willing to take over the expenses, provided I continued to manage the day to day running of the Centre. 

I was very pleased and relieved with this result.

You Can Help

However, we are constantly striving to obtain medical supplies, especially the sutures needed to carry-out the sterilisation operations.

I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to Fethiye Times readers to contact their local veterinary clinic or human hospital to request that any Size 0, 1, 2, or 3 sutures that have passed their shelf-life are forwarded to us via the editor at Fethiye Times, PK23, FETHIYE, 48300, Turkey. 

Thank you to our Supporters

We have to find money to pay for the food for the animals and we are very grateful to a group of English friends, Mr. and Mrs. Harrison, Mr. and Mrs. Trent and Mr. and Mrs. Clusker who have been very active in fund-raising through car boot sales and with this money they have bought dry food for the animals.

We also like to thank other members of the public who have brought animal food to our Centre.

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