While the coronavirus forces billions of people worldwide into lockdown, another large population is also severely affected; stray animals. This global lockdowns against the coronavirus are just like a death sentence to stray animals. They feel the bite as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads. Hundreds of stray dogs and cats have taken over the streets of major cities in search of what to eat and how to survive as the country remains under a coronavirus lockdown. These stray domestic animals have moved to fill the void, while also suffering the consequences of the pandemic.
But the story is not the same in a place like Turkey; it is good to hear that while the Turkish people stay at home to contain the spread of COVID-19, the government is tackling the issue of who will feed hundreds of thousands of stray animals in the country.
The Turkey interior ministry has decided that the job is the responsibility of local councils across the country and ordered them “to bring food and water to animal shelters, gardens, parks, and other areas where animals are found.” The ministry insists that “all necessary actions must be taken to make sure stray animals don’t go hungry”, adding that dens and animals’ shelters should also be sanitized.
Although Volunteers, activists, and residents usually feed Turkey’s pack of strays, restrictions on movement and self-isolation have severely affected animal welfare. While councils sometimes provide services to street animals, it is unusual for the central government to order such a move. In Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, which has the most confirmed COVID-19 infections, there are around 128,900 stray dogs and 162,970 stray cats, according to the city 2018 figures.
Turkish social media users highly praised the move, with many thanking Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu. The official Twitter account of Istanbul’s Bayrampasa district shared photos of stray animals that were fed on April 5. The district said, they are with their true friends, with whom we share life.
One animal welfare organization in the Black Sea region has called on people who are over 65 years who were banned from going outside to contact their district governor to help feed the animals. Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul tweeted a picture of himself stroking a dog, saying: “We should not abandon our animal friends during these tough days.” So far, Turkey has refrained from imposing a nationwide lockdown and instead advises the public to stay home.
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