Starting with my grandmother’s house where I spent part of my childhood, we’ve always had dogs in and around our house. I wasn’t aware of this back then, but compared to the dogs in this documentary, they were very lucky. They got fed, and they were loved. Perhaps more importantly, they were not unwanted in the streets. The Hayirsizada Massacre took place in this country. In 1910, about 80.000 dogs were collected from the streets of Istanbul and left to die on Sivriada, an island in the Sea of Marmara. The island is known as Hayirsizada, or the “no good” Island, because of the massacre that took place. Of course, it’s not the island’s fault – it’s people who are no good.
Until a short time ago, I only knew about the lives of stray dogs to the extent that I saw them on the streets. They weren’t doing awesome, but they were not so bad either. But I had no idea what they really experienced. A few years ago I happened to go to a remote woodland area. This place was far away from all human habitation, and hundreds of dogs lived there – dogs of various ages, sizes and kinds. Some were crippled, some wounded, some had ticks and leeches... They were in very bad shape. Most had tags in their ears, put on by the municipalities. This meant only one thing: these dogs were not wanted on the streets. Either somebody had complained about then, or a municipality had illegally collected them and dumped them there, like garbage. This was only one place among hundreds in Turkey. The situation was dire indeed. We thought of the Hayirsizada Massacre as a thing in the past, but in some ways it was still going on. Nothing had changed.
Dogs bought on a whim and then thrown to the streets after a while, or dogs born on the street, and not even wanted on the street... All have the same fate.
Today, hundreds of thousands of stray dogs in Turkey are struggling for their lives under harsh conditions. It’s sad that their future depends on human beings. Whatever humans want, whatever humans say and do, that’s what happens.