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Turkey marks World Animal Day

Turkey marks World Animal Day

Pet owners took to the streets and top government officials vowed to revamp and expand animal rights laws as Turkey marked World Animal Day, an international day of action for animal rights and welfare celebrated annually on Oct. 4.

As a country famed for its treatment of stray animals, the day saw several events to raise awareness for the fragile existence of cats and dogs in Turkey’s streets, while more than 230 nongovernmental organizations (NGO) in a joint statement called for a wide-ranging ban on all sorts of hunting.

The NGOs, which include Turkish branches of several international groups such as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Greenpeace, started an online petition on change.org as they urged the government to ban hunting completely.

“There can never be a sport, tourism, hobby, or an auction on killing another living being. We are talking about living beings that we share Earth with; they are our close and distant neighbors. We stand against the central hunting commission’s decisions that reduce our neighbors to mere numbers and quotas,” the statement on the petition campaign read.

The campaign came after several attempts by authorities to auction off hunting quotas for animals, some of them at risk of extinction. The latest of such incidents occurred in July when authorities in central Eskişehir province tried to sell hunting rights for 18 red deer to the highest bidder.

While the campaign quickly garnered more than 40,000 signatures, with more signing every minute, the online petitions usually fail to force any changes to legislation, but this time hopes were raised slightly after Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli promised the long-awaited animal rights bill would be finalized as soon as possible.