There are millions of stray animals on the streets of Turkey. In Istanbul alone, a city with a population of 15 million, there is an estimated 300,000 stray dogs and cats.
The shelters are overcrowded and understaff and often completely closed off to the public for visits. The adoption rate is almost zero. Faced with the sheer number of animals in need, municipality vets do the bare minimum to help injured animals. In the shelters, once healthy animals become sick and disabled animals go without much of the care they need.
The municipality governments fail these animals. They neglect their responsibility to sterilize them, as well as provide clean feeding stations and housing, causing disease to spread. Worst, they sometimes leave stray animals in forests or other abandoned areas where they breed more rapidly, have little access to food and water, and often don’t survive through the harsh winters. It was under these conditions that Tails of Istanbul was created in an attempt to fill the gaps left by the municipality.
Before there was Tails of Istanbul, however, there was just Therése. She would feed and care for strays around the city and advocate for individual animals through social media and personal connections between hours volunteering at a shelter. Her apartment began to fill up with cats, leaving her emotionally drained and financially strained, but more determined than ever to help.
Bashar, Sara, and Lauren all made their way to Istanbul and TOI from different backgrounds and under different circumstances, but they all came together through their motivation to help animals in Turkey. Bash created and operates the TOI website which allows us to highlight the animals we promote. Sara built and continues to expand upon a network of connections that have improved our adoption rates exponentially. Lauren writes for the website to help create an emotional connection between those that want to help and those that need help.
As these core volunteers come in and out of Istanbul, one thing that remains constant is the efforts of the members of our social media websites. Tails of Istanbul is above all a network of volunteers working to improve animal welfare in Turkey. This network has homed over 130 animals and has helped countless more.