• What is KAPSA?
Kapsa stands for ‘Kalkan Association for the Protection of Street Animals’. KAPSA was set up as an official organisation in April 2008 to improve the well-being of Kalkan’s street animals
• Who is KAPSA?
KAPSA is a multi-cultural group of people who care about the health and well being of Kalkan’s street animals. At the moment KAPSA has a mix of both full members and honorary members. (Full membership requires that a person is either Turkish or has residency in Turkey). All our members are from within Turkey and also live abroad. We also receive a lot of help and support from many non-members and volunteers.
• Why are there so many ‘wild’ dogs in Kalkan?
Actually, strictly speaking there are no ‘wild’ dogs in Kalkan, there are, however, a large number of both stray and owned animals. The reason for the high number of strays is in a large part due to people from neighbouring areas bringing in unwanted dogs and leaving them here. This has been common practice all over Turkey since Ottoman times, as many Turkish people would consider it a sin (Günah) to kill a dog; they solve the problem of unwanted dogs by moving them on somewhere else. Those that are left in Kalkan are the lucky ones; many more are left in forests and remote areas. For this reason we are constantly trying to impress on people the importance of having dogs neutered, and each year we try to extend our neutering programme further afield to encompass villages in the surrounding areas.
Another more recent problem is that Kalkan has grown a great deal in the last decade. Akbel and the forests around it have always had a huge stray dog problem; now, because every inch of what were once just uninhabited olive groves has now been built on it is difficult to say where Kalkan ends and Akbel begins. Compounding this problem further is the main D400 road, which not only makes human access to Kalkan easier, it makes canine access easier too. Dumping animals has also been made simpler. One of our members witnessed a dog being pushed out of a moving car on the D400.
• Would a dogs’ home not solve Kalkan’s stray dog problem?
No. We at KAPSA believe that for somewhere as small as Kalkan a dogs’ home would be neither humane nor economically sound.
Firstly, a dogs’ home should never be considered a solution to a stray dog problem unless the population of that area is large enough to re-home a large percentage of the animals.
Secondly, the number of dogs being brought into and dumped in Kalkan would go up enormously because it would be deemed by people in neighbouring villages that Kalkan has the solution for their dog overpopulation problem. This has and is still happening in Kaş. A dogs’ home in Kalkan would fill up with dogs at such an incredible rate that it would be unsustainable both physically and financially. So a dogs’ home does not mean no dogs on the streets, in fact, it could mean quite the reverse. Even the dogs home in Fethiye, which is one of the best in Turkey, operates a program of ‘neuter and return’ ie dogs that are taken off the streets are neutered, vaccinated, tagged and returned to the same street from which they came.
• What is ‘Trap, Neuter and Return’ ?
Countless studies have been done by many independent bodies all over the world to determine how best to deal with stray animal overpopulation and all come to the same conclusion. The only long-term, sustainable solution is ‘Neuter and Return’. This is known as TNR -‘Trap, Neuter and Return’ in some countries or ABC –‘Animal Birth Control’ in others but the strategy is the same whatever the name.
Neuter and return is the catching or trapping of stray cats and dogs which are then neutered, vaccinated (in the case of dogs) and returned to the spot where they were caught. Dogs are given numbered ear tags and are photographed and registered; cats have the tip of one ear clipped to avoid them being caught again.
As we have mentioned earlier, the reason we have so many street animals in Kalkan is that people bring in animals from outside and leave them here. In our experience it is particularly puppies that are abandoned; these are often the offspring of dogs whose owners do not know what to do with them. Or they may be the unwanted young of strays born into already overpopulated areas nearby. This is the main source of the problem. Very often people also abandon the mother but keep a male puppy instead, hoping to avoid the problem of another unwanted litter. Neutering all strays and encouraging people to have their own animals neutered removes the problem at source! If every stray animal in an area is sterile the population will eventually reduce unless animals continue to be brought in from outside. This is why we extend our neutering programme to the surrounding areas of Kalkan and we offer free neutering for any dogs that are on the streets of Kalkan and its neighbouring villages.
’In the long term, control of reproduction is by far the most effective strategy of dog population management’
W.H.O. Geneva, Guidelines for Dog population Management, page 72
• Why not cull/kill the stray animals?
In the UK if stray dogs are not homed within a certain period many are humanely put to sleep, but here in Turkey, despite a lot of bad publicity to the contrary, most Turkish people would be horrified at the thought. Recently Imams (Muslim religious leaders) all over Turkey told congregations in their hutbe’s (speeches made during the Friday prayer) that one of the main principles of Islam is kindness towards animals. Click here
Kalkan is not alone when it comes to having numbers of stray dogs on its streets – this is a problem all over Turkey. If we were to remove every stray dog from Kalkan today in no time at all the streets would fill up again with dogs from neighbouring areas, however, these would not be the neutered, vaccinated and generally friendly animals we have now. It has been suggested by ICAM (International Companion Animal Management Coalition) that redistribution of animals into newly vacant territories may actually heighten the risk of rabies through increased movement. It is also thought that in a situation where reproduction is limited by access to resources, a sudden reduction in the number of animals may allow greater access to food resources for those remaining, and their potential for reproductive success and survival would increase enabling them to quickly replace the animals that were removed.
’Removal and killing of dogs should never be considered as the most effective way of dealing with the problem of surplus dogs in the community: it has no effect whatsoever on the root cause of the problem’’
W.H.O. Geneva, Guidelines for Dog population Management 1990, page 74
• Are the dogs that roam the streets owned?
The meaning of dog ownership in Turkey often differs considerably from our perception of it in countries such as the UK. Although some Turkish people will have dogs as house pets many more will keep a dog outside their house, giving it food and water but allowing it to roam freely. Some dogs can even be considered as ‘community dogs’, these are dogs that are not owned but tolerated and often fed by several people living in one area.
A dog with a collar does not neccessarily mean that it is owned. Some may have had a collar on when they were left here; some others have had collars put on by KAPSA members for various reasons. For instance there is a dog called Angela who is currently on long-term medication, and she has a collar and a tag stating she is being treated by KAPSA. She also has a pouch on the collar with her medication and a chart inside, as she ‘visits’ her usual haunts each day, the chart is checked and medicine administered if needed. More recently she has also been collecting money in her pouch from tourists! Well done Angela!!
• What do the plastic ear tags mean?
The tags show that the dog has been neutered and vaccinated and we keep a record of the number so that we know when and where this was done. On the whole dogs with tags are not owned. Some neutered strays do not have tags for some reason or other, perhaps they were neutered before the tagging system was introduced or perhaps the tags had to be removed due to infection or for some other reason.
• What happens to the street animals in the winter?
Generally the street animals fare pretty well in Kalkan during the winter. It is the time when most of KAPSA’s work with the animals is done. We have a winter feeding programme for the animals, and much of the neutering is done at this time because many of our members and volunteers are involved in tourism and cannot therefore, spare too much time in the summer.
• Why does KAPSA have a winter feeding programme?
During the summer months the street animals feed well on scraps put out by restaurants, hotels, tourists and residents too. Many animal loving visitors even bring cat/dog food out here with them, so concerned are they about the welfare of the street animals here. So there is no need for KAPSA to feed them too. When the tourist season ends, however, it is a very different matter! Hotels and many restaurants and shops close. Tourists leave and villas get locked up. Food for the animals becomes scarce. Now, with the help of dozens of volunteers KAPSA has an established winter feeding programme in Kalkan extending from Kışla to Kızıltaş and from Kalamar to Kördere etc. Each volunteer keeps KAPSA informed of how many animals they are feeding in a particular area, and KAPSA gives them an allowance of dog or cat food accordingly. This not only keeps the animals from going hungry but also stops many of them migrating to the centre of Kalkan in search of food in and around the few restaurants that remain open all year. Volunteer feeders are also encouraged to take photos of dogs that they feed so that we can register them and keep track of numbers. They are also expected to inform us of unneutered animals in their areas. Catching these animals for neutering becomes considerably easier in this way and the likelihood of dogs escaping neutering is greatly reduced.
• What is the municipality doing about the street animals in Kalkan?
The Turkish animal welfare bill 5199 from 2004 that was implemented in 2006, obliges all municipalities to solve the stray dogs problem by means of neuter and return. KAPSA is funded 100% from the generous donations of our supporters. We receive no financial help from the municipality. However, now that Kalkan is part of the larger Kas municipality, they now employ a woman vet and amongst other things, she is tasked with holding neutering days in surrounding villages where locals can bring their own animals for neutering free of charge. KAPSA wholeheartedly supports this initiative and provides volunteers on the day to catch street animals for neutering. Since the inception of KAPSA, we have lobbied every Mayor that this is the way forward, and now we have a progressive Mayor who recognises the impact, over time, this initiative will have. The Village Neutering Days (VND’s) are also hugely successful in the number of owned animals neutered.
• Are there any animal rights laws in Turkey?
As mentioned before there is a very stringent animal rights bill no.5199 which you can read in full here. However, this is was recently rewritten by the current Administration, and the proposed amendments included extreme measures to remove ALL street dogs from the streets of Turkey and put them in ‘natural life parks’ which basically means they will be removed to the forests. Given many municipalities do not follow the current legislation and continue to poison or kill the street dogs, the general consensus amongst animal rights groups was that the animals would be left in the forests to fend for themselves. There have been many demonstrations across the whole of Turkey during the Autumn of 2012 protesting at the proposals which seem to have worked. As yet, no changes have been made. If you would like to learn more click here.
• Is there any legislation about registering animals in Turkey?
Yes, all owned dogs are supposed to be registered with the municipality. This is being implemented in Fethiye. In Kalkan, we at KAPSA are trying to register ALL dogs, owned and otherwise, in an attempt to better understand and manage the ever changing dog population here. Anyone wishing to register their dog can request a registration form from firstname.lastname@example.org
• What do the local people feel about the animals on the streets?
This is a difficult question to answer. Many people like animals but feel there are too many animals on the streets of Kalkan. We at KAPSA agree with this, which is why we are working to reduce the numbers in the long term. We have also been instrumental in having some aggressive dogs removed from the streets. Some people are frightened of dogs and we are trying to improve the relationship between people and animals through example and education. We are also trying to increase local awareness of, and compassion for the plight of street animals, and to inspire and engage local people to take part in, or at least understand our work.
• How do the local people feel about KAPSA?
We are getting more and more local support for our work.Those that we speak to understand that we are trying to get the animal population under control and that it is in the interest of the animals, the residents and Kalkan in general to do so. Increasingly local people aid us by informing us of animals that are in need of help or that should be neutered. Indeed, where as before sometimes we would spend hours trying to catch a nervous bitch for spaying, more recently we have asked around until we have found someone that she trusts and we have given them a collar and lead and a number to call when they have caught her. This has been very effective, time saving and far less traumatic for the animal concerned. Involving local people in this way also helps to show them that they too can make a difference.
• What should I do if I get bitten by a dog?
If you should be unlucky enough to get bitten you must report it to the municipality. If possible a photograph of the animal would be useful. If the skin has been broken you should see a medical practitioner. KAPSA would always like to be informed of incidents like this because, although it is not our responsibility, we may be able to offer help or assistance with the animal.
• Is Rabies a problem in the Kalkan area?
No, there has not been a case of Rabies in the Kalkan for over 20 years. Rabies is taken very seriously here and if any animal is suspected of having rabies it is quarantined and investigated thoroughly.
• What should we do if we find a sick or injured animal, or one that needs to be neutered?
You can take the animal to the Kalkan Veterinary Clinic with whom we work closely. It is situated on the Kalamar Road, opposite Pasha Apartments. There are generally KAPSA cat boxes available there for transporting cats for you to borrow and return.
The vets name is Hasan and his number is 0242 844 3188 . He will then contact us. If you cannot take the animal yourself you can contact us on the following number 0532 252 8903.
• Who can join KAPSA?
Anyone, over 18 years of age may become a member. If you are not Turkish or do not have residency in Turkey you may be an honorary member. Should you wish to join please get in touch.
• How can we help KAPSA?
There are many ways in which people can help us, either practically or financially. If you are in Kalkan you can help by informing us about animals that need help or that need neutering or even take them to the vet yourself. We are always looking for volunteers to join our working teams may they be involved in neutering, winter feeding, fundraising or general awareness. We always need supplies of veterinary products, worming tablets, wound powder, antibiotics etc. More cat boxes and dog collars would be useful, dog and cat food is also always welcome as are donations of any kind. Books, clothes, raffle prizes and any saleable items of any kind are great as we hold fundraising events twice yearly. There are so many ways in which you can help, please go to our ‘Get involved’ or ‘How you can help’ sections. Whether you are in Kalkan or not, there are ways you can help. Drop us a line and let’s talk.
• How can I donate?
If you would like to donate financially look out for official KAPSA collection boxes in shops and businesses around Kalkan or for details of our PayPal, Turkish and UK bank accounts please go to our ‘How to donate’ section. All financial donations are very welcome. If you wish to donate on a regular basis, and are based in the UK, the best way to do this is to set up a standing order.