Dogs in Istanbul – learn how BUPAWS is helping

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Defne and Shiva, one of the stray dogs in Istanbul - photo courtesy of BUPAWS

When you move to a new country, getting involved in the same types of activities you do back home is a great way to get settled, make new friends and feel good. If you’re in Istanbul you’ll have probably already seen the way Turks look after street cats. People put out bowls of water, piles of dry food and even set up cat homes in parks and apartment block gardens. However it’s a very different story when it comes to dogs. Each year hundreds of pet dogs are abandoned, left to fend for themselves in competition with numerous street dogs already trying to survive. However there are some organisations trying to change that.

BUPAWS – helping dogs in Istanbul

A dog's life and the ignominy of being washed.

One of them is BUPAWS, an animal shelter set up as an NGO on campus at Bosphorus University in 2002 to protect dogs in Istanbul against laws that saw street dogs rounded up and killed. The BUPAWS philosophy is that stray animals are part of the community and should be treated with compassion, respect and kindness. It’s run by Defne Arsöy and Ahmet Çolak. Together with the help of volunteers they feed, house and care for 66 dogs. All of the dogs were living uncared for on campus before being taken in. Unfortunately they don’t have the space to accept animals from outside the university.

Ahmet with Vani - photo courtesy of BUPAWS

BUPAWS offers a lot of different ways to get involved. Individuals already familiar with dogs can come and walk them, help prepare their food, wash and groom them, clean their accommodations and grounds as well as help socialise them for possible forever home adoption. As BUPAWS is on university land you’ll need to get in touch with Defne to arrange your first visit. You can also foster a dog. Your donation goes into a fund to buy food, blankets and other necessities for all the dogs, while you can come and spend time with ‘your’ dog on a regular basis. If you can’t visit in person or leave the country you can still foster a dog. You’ll receive regular updates on your dog, its condition and progress.

Educating people about dogs is an important part of BUPAWS. They hold regular events for people interested in helping out. Topics covered include learning how to behave around dogs, training dogs, dog washing, grooming and so on. This is great for kids, so if you’re a teacher or the organiser of a children’s group let BUPAW know you’re interested in coming and they’ll prepare a fun, educational program for your students.

BUPAWS information stand - photo courtesy of BUPAWS

Defne Arsöy works tirelessly to get the message out that stray dogs in Istanbul should be as valued as beloved pets. She’s trained Istanbul Technical University students to go into schools and talk to children about dogs, about learning to live together with animals and the benefits of spending time with dogs. Veterinarian students can come and do placements to gain experience dealing with small animals. At the end of the program they receive a certificate.

If you want to help dogs in Istanbul, get involved and go to the BUPAWS contact page and leave your details. The BUPAWS dogs will thank you.

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