Turkish woman cares for over 180 street animals

Alaturka Kultur Sanat Haberleri

By Merve Berker

ANKARA (AA) – A woman in Turkey spends great effort to look after 137 dogs and 45 cats that are homeless with her own money and donations she receives from animal lovers.

Aygul Saltik, 49, told Anadolu Agency that she was raised by kind and helpful parents, which made her to grow with the idea of helping street animals as much as she could.

At first, she started helping homeless animals in her city in Turkey’s southwestern province of Isparta by using her own money.

But she said: “I was in debt of animal food to all pet shops in Isparta because my money wasn’t enough for all street animals.”

She then decided to seek donations and started an Instagram page, “Aygul’un Canlari” (Aygul’s Beloveds), with the help of a friend’s daughter in December 2019.

Since then, she has used the page as a “piggy bank” for animal food.

She said she sometimes announces that she also needs money to meet veterinarian costs, but because the donations are not enough and also not regular, she continues to use her own salary to make the payments.

“I take care of 137 dogs and 45 cats currently living on the streets. Because I do all the work mostly by myself, I can only go home around 1 a.m. every day,” said Saltik. “I’m a mother of two but can see them after I get home.”

The animals Saltik takes care of are spread over an area of 10,000 square meters (over 107,000 square feet) in the Yakaoren village of central Isparta, which was rented by one of her friends until April 2021.

She mentioned that she dreams of renting the area again to make it home for all homeless dogs, meeting the needs of her beloved animals here, including food, shelter, and their health care.

But because the donations do not even meet the food expenses, she says this will probably remain just as a dream.

Asked what she wants from people, she said she expects them to empathize with animals living on streets in harsh conditions.

She said she wants people first to imagine what it would be like to be homeless, and then treat these animals accordingly.

Saltik added that she has loads of memories which are mostly sad ones due to lack of money and improper conditions to meet the needs of all street animals.

“It’s a wound inside me that never heals.”