In almost all regions of the world – from Eastern Europe to India to the Americas – street dogs are a huge problem. Holland is one of the only nations that does not have a street dog problem, due to its stringent laws relating to the purchase of dogs.
The issue of unwanted animals has many causes, including:
- Large populations of stray dogs who breed uncontrollably;
- Formerly owned dogs abandoned by irresponsible owners, or following the death of an owner;
- Lack of education about, and funding for trap, neuter and return programmes.
In many societies people become tired of their pets or are unable to care for them, and abandon them to shelters with high kill rates where their days are numbered. Many USA charities are working very hard to try and highlight this problem. It seems that the “throw away” mentality of our society extends to animals too.
Turkey has its own street dog problem, with animals starving and suffering from disease, malnutrition and harsh conditions in both the summer and winter. There are many organisations which have been set up – mostly by Turkish people, but also by foreigners – to try to reduce the population, and to prevent the poisoning or shooting of these unfortunate creatures. Education, especially of the younger generation in schools, and the use of poster campaigns are helping to get the message circulated.
Organisations in Kas (KAFC) and Kalkan (KAPSA), on the south west coast of Turkey, have been very successful, but still have a long way to go before they can bring an end to the plight of unwanted puppies and dogs. They not only have programmes to neuter dogs and cats and keep them healthy and fed in the wintertime, but also have a good success rate in finding safe homes for the animals.
Many Turkish dogs are simply not able to return to the streets following spay or neuter, either due to disability or problematic behaviour such as killing chickens or biting locals. The fate of these dogs, if left on the streets, could be poisoning, shooting or abandonment in the forests and subsequent starvation. It is therefore important to find them a suitable home, or else place them in the local dog shelter amongst hundreds of other unwanted canines.
The author of Just Josh took a special interest in dogs that couldn’t be left to live on the street and were difficult to rehome. She promoted her cause by blogging about such strays. A particular dog named Josh soon received a lot of interest and was given his own Facebook page, Just Josh Confidential, and attracted a huge following for the whole fourteen month run of the daily blog. Fans became personally invested in his plight and provided much needed funds for his medical, foster and emigration costs, which would have been too prohibitive for the charity that had funded all his care up until that time. The blog became the first read of the day for many and was inundated with daily messages. Josh’s followers shed many a tear, but also smiled at the humorous verse of his story, and raised numerous glasses of wine to toast his successes.
As well as telling the story of Josh, one of the aims of the book is to help people understand that animals do have feelings, and thus gather more support worldwide for animal welfare. Some of the book reviews showed that readers became more aware of how homeless dogs may feel and the struggle they endure to survive. The book has gained the support of many whom it inspired to help animal charities.
Excerpt from Just Josh
Alas that wasn’t to be. My idyllic life came suddenly to a halt and even now I shudder at those few months when I first became a Kalkan street dog.
Don’t get me wrong; there are worse places to be in Turkey if you are a dog alone on the streets. Kalkan had its own network of animal lovers who were there for every needy creature, be it a dog, cat, bird, tortoise or snake. Need I go on?
After three or four months, life changed for me in the worst way possible. I found myself dumped on the busy D400 with very fast cars racing by. I wasn’t warned by anyone that this would happen. I didn’t have time to even say goodbye or have a last drink of mama’s milk. I am sure she was just as shocked as me when I was taken. I believe this happens a great deal to village pups!
I will never ever forget the terror of finding myself alone, deserted and in unfamiliar surroundings. I couldn’t fathom out why or what I had done to deserve this? It must have been our owners because mother was a guard dog and would never have let a stranger near me, let alone in the garden.
Rough hands had snatched me up from my darling mother, tucked me into their jacket and sped off on something that sounded like a huge animal and bounced around so much that I felt sick. Then I was on a cold, hard surface with strange smells looking frantically to the left and right hoping that mother would appear and carry me to safety. I sniffed the air, hoping smells of her would tell me which way to go. Maybe she would appear soon and carry me home in her gentle mouth.
I am sure she would have if she had known where to look. The pain of losing me must have been as awful for her as my anguish was for me. Although it is possible that this had happened many times and like most dogs, she accepted it as her lot.
I didn’t know how to be safe and soon I strayed onto the road in a quest for my mama and familiar things. I was also very scared, cold, hungry and thirsty. My thoughts were always what did I do wrong? Why didn’t they want me? Am I unlovable? Does my mother know? Will she come and find me? Oh how I prayed for the latter to happen.
It wasn’t long before one of those big angry, snarling creatures called cars hit me and I was bowled over into the gutter. The pain was horrible. I felt very sick and my leg was hanging at a strange angle! How long I lay there I don’t know but when I struggled to my feet and dragged myself along I thought that I was doomed. I was utterly miserable.
The Pet Blog Lady writes that Just Josh is “one of the sweetest dog rescue stories I have ever read, bringing out a gut-level understanding of what it’s like to be a dog living on the street.” Read her full review on her blog.
The book is available from Lulu, either in print or as an eBook: