Many cities across Turkey were deserted over the weekend as a full lockdown to curb the COVID-19 pandemic went into force on Friday evening.
Apart from members of security forces who manage the curfew – set to end Monday morning – and the few allowed to go out, everyone is at home. Thus, stray animals have been the only passersby of places that normally teem with massive crowds.
Most of them spent the two days freely roaming the streets, sleeping on boardwalks where they would otherwise be disturbed by the commotion of humans.
A lack of people, however, also meant a lack of food for many of the animals. Animal rights activists took turns feeding them while security officers, including a newly established unit of the Turkish police tasked with protecting animals, delivered food and water to the little neighbors. Restrictions do not cover people who feed animals nor animal owners who need to walk their pets.
Yağmur Islattı, who heads a local animal rights organization in the northwestern province of Edirne, was among those on the street feeding the animals. “We have five groups of activists and municipality workers, and everyone has a schedule on when and where to feed the animals during the curfew. We can’t reach out to each animal, but we are trying to feed those in places where their numbers are high,” she told Demirören News Agency (DHA) on Sunday. Islattı says they depend on donations from the public to feed the animals as they are already troubled by the closure of restaurants under pandemic measures.
“Feeding stray animals is especially important in winter. Temperatures drop, and they need food to keep themselves warm,” Islattı said.