Owners leave “dangerous” dogs behind before the ban in Turkey

As the January 14th deadline for owners of “dangerous” dog breeds to register their pets approaches, dog abandonment cases are on the rise. Dogs that are not registered and neutered will be taken away from owners according to guidelines. Animal lovers say more dog owners have started leaving them in remote locations to skip the bureaucratic process.

In Istanbul, dogs of dangerous breeds, from pit bulls to Japanese Tosa and Dogo Argentino, are increasingly spotted on the roadside and in forests. Nilgül Sayar, who runs a local animal lovers association in the Göktürk district, says she saw previously abandoned pets, but their numbers rose significantly after the new dog breed regulation went into effect in early December.

“Myself and other members of the association have found stranded animals here in the past, but this month it was almost a daily opportunity,” she told the Demirören News Agency (DHA) while tending to an Argentine Dog she was in a deserted country had found wooded area.

Violations of the regulations are punishable by fines, which some owners see as an additional cost. Together with Göktürk, Catalca, a remote district on Istanbul’s European side, sees more dogs being exposed in rural parts of the district. “We have found about ten dogs here in the last four days,” says Ibrahim Karataş, a villager in Çatalca. “I saw someone come here in a car recently and throw off a dog. The dog ran after the car but it sped away,” he said.

“Dangerous races” made headlines this month after children were injured in multiple pit bull attacks across the country. The sale, import and possession of pit bulls and other dogs known for their aggression is already banned, but the market is flourishing illegally, with online sales to evade regulations.

Sayar argues that mandatory sterilization for dangerous breeds means “financial losses” for dog owners. She says some dog owners “arrange dog fights” or “breed more dogs” for sale. “You won’t be able to make any money out of it, so leave them,” she said.

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