You couldn't spend a day in Dalyan without meeting the town's other residents, and I'm not talking about the expats! On every street corner you will find one. Some love them, some hate them and some are scared of them. Whatever the case, it is an issue that has become a problem in Dalyan and all over Turkey. I invite you to meet the dogs of Dalyan!
One of the many dogs of Dalyan!
There is no way to know exactly how many dogs there are currently residing in Dalyan, but it is certainly in the hundreds. Some are legitimately owned but by all accounts left to roam the streets at their will. Some are adopted by local businesses who feed them and care for them but they remain street dogs, and others are taken in by the local dog shelter, Dalyan Animals.
Caring for the Dogs of Dalyan
While most of the dogs are incredibly friendly and just want to spend their days lying in the sun and looking for scraps of food and a bit of love, they are a problem that tourists have to be aware of. Some come across as aggressive, particularly if you happen to be in a car or on a scooter or bike and they do sometimes fight between themselves. Rabies is also something to be considered if you choose to pet the dogs. Rabies is not a widespread problem in Dalyan so don't worry, but it is a possibility. If you are bitten by one of the dogs, you will need the full rabies treatment, which includes several injections over the course of a few weeks.
If you are walking around in Dalyan, I would say the only problem you will have is trying to stop them following you, they really want to be your friend! But just be aware that if you are cycling around town, many will bark at you and may seem aggressive, but they will likely leave you alone. If you happen to be chased, slow down or even get off and walk, they will soon get bored. Alternatively, have a bottle or water on you ready to squirt at them to fend them off. However, while this is a gentle warning, the vast majority of dogs in Dalyan will not cause you a problem.
Puppies for Adoption
So how did Dalyan become home to so many hundreds of dogs? Well in the past, bar and restaurants in the town would buy puppies which they would use to lure in customers. As soon as the animals lost their cute factor, they would be left to their own devices on the streets. Over time, this has led to a massive increase in the number of street dogs in the area. As more and more dogs were left to live on the streets, of course they began to breed. Sadly, nobody seemed to want to do anything about the growing numbers of dogs and so the problem escalated and the dogs of Dalyan became as much a part of the town as the people.
Mebrure, founder of Dalyan Animals
In 2008, finally it was realised that something had to be done to control the population of dogs and so charity Dalyan Animals was founded. Local dog lover Mebrure, together with the local council and charity DOHAKDER, found a plot of land on the outskirts of Dalyan and built a dog shelter. The aim was to attempt to register all of the dogs in Dalyan, while neutering them and then providing a home for them with the intention of having them adopted. If you see dogs around town with tags in their ears, these are those who have been health checked, neutered and registered.
Watch our short film about Dalyan Animals.
Our short film about Dalyan Animals
Sometimes locals will call the shelter to complain about a dog, in which case they must go and pick it up. On occasions, they find dogs dumped at the entrance gate overnight and others are brought in for neutering. Whatever the reason, when a dog is brought to the compound, they are set up with a doggy passport, which includes a photograph and a health record so that they can be identified in the future; this is their registration. The dogs that stay at the shelter are then given a collar with their name on it. If the dogs are sick, they are cared for and if they are pregnant, they remain at the shelter until their puppies are born and old enough to be adopted. If they are well and able to survive on the streets, many are put back as the streets are what they know as home. Of the dogs that end up living at the shelter, if they are not adopted, they live out their days at the compound.
Dalyan Animal's Dog Shelter
There are currently 130 dogs living at the shelter. The upkeep and building work done at the compound relies solely on charitable donations, though the council do provide them with two workers who look after day to day maintenance and feeding. Otherwise, all of the work at the shelter is done by six or seven regular local volunteers, mostly expats. I was fortunate enough to be given a tour and an inside look at what happens at the shelter and I can attest to the fact that these animals are loved and cared for, most appear to be incredibly happy and loving dogs.
My personal favourite, the beautiful Diane
One of the problems facing the shelter is that they do not own the tapu (deeds) for the land on which the premises is built, therefore they can not register as a charity with a permanent address and they cannot receive government funding. Without this, they are entirely dependent upon the good will of private donations. They hope that one day the tapu issue will be solved, it is not a logistical problem and is entirely possible, but they are relying on the council to sort it out, something that is a very slow process.
Volunteers clean and groom the dogs
Regular volunteers will spend a day at the shelter and help to look after the dogs, washing and grooming them and cleaning the compound. However, you do not need to be living in Dalyan to be able to volunteer. Perhaps you own property in Dalyan and visit regularly? Your help would be hugely welcomed. Even if you are just visiting Dalyan for a week, your time would be so appreciated. Visiting the shelter is a real experience! Have you ever been greeted and jumped on by 130 dogs wanting attention and love? It sure is fun!
On Wednesdays and Saturdays, anybody is welcome to visit the shelter. You can groom the dogs and/or you can take them for walks. You can even just spend time with them and play. If you are visiting and are able to, any donations of money or supplies would be greatly appreciated.
Donated Dog Houses
If you feel that you can donate, it costs 150 Turkish Lira to neuter a dog. This is something that will really help keep the number of dogs in Dalyan down in the future and is incredibly important. You could alternatively donate a dog house for your favourite, which can be bought at different prices. But what would be really useful to the shelter is supplies. Blankets, towels, food and medication including flea and worm treatments. Really, anything that you can think of would be a huge benefit to them. If you can't visit the shelter yourself, you can drop donations into the local DOHAKDER charity shop in the centre of town by the turtle roundabout.