25 'forbidden breed' dogs imprisoned for life in Turkey’s Edirne

Twenty-five dogs considered “forbidden” because of their breed or their owners' crimes will be caged in the Edirne Municipality Temporary Animal Nursing Home for the rest of their lives. Though the shelter is considered temporary, the staff are unable to release the dogs due to their breed or history.

Duvar English

Some 25 of the 500 dogs housed at the Edirne Municipality Temporary Animal Nursing Home will be caged there for the rest of their lives, Demiören news agency reported on Nov. 4. 

Even though the shelter is supposed to be temporary, it is unable to release these dogs due to the fact that they are “forbidden breeds” and is forced to keep them there until they die. 

Soyuhan Barlas, the veterinarian who oversees the shelter, said it is unfair that these animals remain imprisoned for life simply because of their breed. Each day, he and the other shelter employees care for these dogs, considered by law to be “forbidden breeds” and do their best to keep them healthy. Simply because dogs like Pitbulls have higher levels of athleticism and jaw strength, Barlas and his colleagues have to keep them in cages. 

“This [strength] does not mean that they should be banned in our eyes. All animals are equal. Despite this, these 'prohibited breeds' are specified in the law […] It is made completely impossible to adopt them from shelters, it is impossible to find them a home, and they stay here and are cared for until they die,” he said. 

Barlas said that keeping these animals caged is the equivalent of imprisonment.

“We keep them here like prison convicts because of their racial characteristics. We are imprisoning them,” he said. 

These animals, many of whom are sensitive or traumatized, have special caretakers who attend to their needs. Many of them are only comfortable with one or two veterinarians. Not everyone can enter their cages, and they become “attached to certain people.” They are mostly mixed-breed, and are being punished for that, said Barlas.

“These souls are imprisoned for life here, without committing any crimes,” he said. 

If the dogs are actually determined to be hybrid breeds, they can be released from the shelters, either to be adopted or to their owners. However, Edirne Deputy Mayor Ertuğrul Tanrıkulu noted that Edirne does not have the capacity to carry out such precise DNA testing. He said it is a shame that the dogs are imprisoned, but with the city’s current capacity there is no other option.

“These souls, unfortunately, are subjected to ill-treatment due to people’s misperception, in some way,” Tanrıkulu said. “The probability of them being hybrid [breeds] is very high. If a DNA test is completed to prove they are hybrids, then they can be released. Unfortunately, we do not have that capacity […] If we do a study like that, maybe we can hand over these hybrid breeds to their owners.”