Turkey's Environment, Urbanization Ministry and Climate Change Ministry has sent a circular to the 81 provinces' governorates and municipalities, asking them to round up certain types of stray dogs that are considered as “dangerous” as per the Animal Law.
According to the Law No. 7332 on the Amending the Animal Protection Law and the Turkish Penal Code, dogs breeds of American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, American Pitbull Terrier, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro and Japanese Tosa breeds are classified as “dangerous.”
The circular asked the authorities to conduct regular inspections to determine these dogs on the streets, to round up the unattended ones and take them to the shelters.
Once in the shelters, the circular called for the “rehabilitation” of these animals, such as “parasite treatment, inoculation, sterilization and entry of their data in the digital platform.” It is only once municipalities employ these “rehabilitation” methods that they can place the animals back on the streets, the circular said.
The circular was issued after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stirred controversy on Dec. 25, by calling on what he said “White Turks” to look after their dogs. Erdoğan ordered authorities to capture “dangerous” dogs and place them in shelters.
The president's remarks came after two pitbulls attacked a 4-year-old child in the southeastern province of Antep last week. The child, Asiye Ateş, was heavily injured and is currently receiving treatment at a hospital.
Erdoğan however used the incident to call for the streets to be free of animals. Since his order, authorities all around the county have been busy capturing dogs illegally and taking them to shelters.
The issue became a trending topic on Twitter and thousands of people slammed Erdoğan's remarks. While many pointed to the fact that pitbulls are not intrinsically violent and that their owners raise these animals to be such, others asked why the incident became a tool to target stray animals.