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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The summer brings a different set of problems. The shelter struggles to offer shade to dogs in allocated areas with no trees.
The shelter also has a problem with rats.
Too few humans
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.
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.
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.
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.