The city that lives in peace with animals
Not a single incident of violence against animals has been reported in Turkey's Kurdish-majority province of Tunceli (Dersim) in the last 10 years, according to information provided by the police, the municipal administration and various associations.
The settlements in the province, with a total population of about 86,000, houses about 4,000 stray dogs and 1,000 feral cats, and there is not any animal shelter in the city of Tunceli or district centers to contain them. The dogs and cats live in streets and parks, and are provided food and water by citizens and animal care volunteers. A restaurant donates 5% of its earnings to contribute to the funding of supplies.
Wooden huts are placed in the city every winter to protect the animals from the cold.
Spokesperson of an association for protection of animals, Dilsah Mak, told Demiroren News Agency that she has been living in Tunceli for four years, and she is very happy to be there.
"I'm very happy because the animals can live in peace here. Maybe that's the sole reason that I'm so happy to be here. There is never any violence against animals in the street. This is actually a city where the animals do not have to live in shelters."
"I even had a job transfer to another location suspended, because you start having emotional ties with the animals. You start seeing them as your children (...) I'm very happy to be here and I don't want to live elsewhere."
Aygul Aras, who settled in the city after having lived in Germany for 43 years, serves local foods in a restaurant that she started with some of her friends. They allocate 5% of their revenues on a regular basis to finance the food and medicine for the animals.
Aras notes that Tunceli has the highest population of stray dogs and cats per capita in Turkey.
Cruelty to animals and miserable conditions surrounding stray dogs in some shelters have recently been brought to public focus in Turkey, after the head of an association that helps vulnerable animals released images of starving dogs ripping at each other in a shelter. The man was detained by the police and held in custody at the anti-terror bureau for a day before he was released.