Sebahat's Story Then and Now
Updated: Jan 31
I live in Kastamonu city in Turkey. This is a small city in the underdeveloped part of Turkey where most of the population is cruel and ignorant towards stray animals. There is a lot of hatred and fear among people due to current political climate and the last thing people care about is a “filthy street animals”.
My own family was similar. My grandfather used to throw stray cats to the river. However, karma has caught up with his evil deeds. On his dying breath he kept saying “Get these cats off of me”.
I became very involved with stray animals six years ago. I am an accountant by profession, but about 6 years ago I started working as traveling salesman. I would go house to house and sell everyday household products. During this time while I was on the road, I realized that there were hundreds if not thousands of poor animals in terrible conditions battling with hunger, disease, and cold trying to survive on the roadsides and edges of the forests. On another day, when I was travelling to Inebolu city, I saw dogs trying to survive in a nearby dumpster area and my heart ached.
I had recognized that something had to be done urgently and that someone had to act. I contacted the municipalities and government officials. They didn’t care at all and they told me “If you love them so much, take them all”. I asked my friends for help, their reaction was “These animals are dirty, we won’t touch them”.
So…I took things in my own hands. With the money I earned I started buying bags of dog food and medication. Because I was still living with my family, I had some additional funds that allowed me to afford all the food and medications for the poor babies. At the time I was not aware of social media, or that people would be willing to donate to worthy campaigns, so all funds were out of my pocket. Besides food and medications, I really wanted to shelter the dogs from the harsh weather here, so I saved up some money and put up simple sheds to shelter them. Two days later, the sheds were stolen by the locals. I even sold my own car to be able to afford more food for them, and I would ask my friends to land me their cars so that I could go to the feeding locations.
My work with the stray doggies continued, it never stopped.
What am I doing right now?
Every week, I visit 5 feeding zones. I provide medication, vitamins and nutrition boosters to every dog I can find and catch. For simple conditions like mange I provide medication and for more severe conditions, I take them to a licensed veterinary clinic. Funny enough there is only one veterinarian that accepts street animals and he helps me a lot.
I always try to try give the doggies best food possible, especially during the winter. When I can’t afford the dry food, I boil massive batches of pasta and take it to them. I also visit shelters, schools, cafeterias and collect the leftover food and take those to them as well.
Four years later, which was just 2 years ago I learned about Instagram. I started posting, and people started donating for food and medications, and this alone gave me so much hope and support. Last month I started a Twitter account as well. Funny enough, my followers on Instagram would tag Dodo on my posts and that is how I found out about you. I recognized how much of an amazing organization you are, so I started sending you my videos in hope of doing even more for these poor animals.
My videos are not of the highest quality. I do these feedings all alone, I feed, provide medication and simultaneously try to take videos. As you can see, they don’t end up being professional. In the last year my dear friend Cigdem, who is a teacher, has been helping me. Now, it is two of us alone, two ladies, trying our best to help more than 500 stray dogs to survive against the odds.
How do I feel?
On days when I feel frustrated and completely heartbroken I say “I will not go anymore”, but then shortly I realize that if I don’t go, they have no one else to go see them. These poor animals are so used to being disappointed, hurt, thrown, hit, even killed, that if I gave up, their hard life would simply become unimaginable.
These homeless babies are kind, they are purer than any of us. For these babies, I got into fights, I got punched, kicked, threatened. My own friends and family stopped talking to me simply because they thought I was “dirty”. NO MATTER WHAT I WILL NEVER GIVE UP ON THEM. THEY ARE WORTHIER IN MY EYE THAN SOME HUMAN BEINGS IN THIS WORLD.
What are my current goals/projects?
Currently I am pursuing 2 goals.
A proper shelter – I am trying to put together/build a space where I can take care of young fragile babies, crippled dogs, dogs that require post-surgery recovery. Once we have a shelter, I plan to develop programs that will help some of these dogs get adopted, or virtually adopted, be supported, and I plan to develop programs to inspire people in Turkey to be kinder and help stray dogs in their areas. I want to show them that it is possible, and that these babies have pure hearts and are wonderful dogs and friends when given a chance. Dear You, I wish you could come here and see the conditions I am dealing with. Believe me, you would want to stay and help them just like I did 6 years ago. I am immensely appreciative of your interest and hopefully support. Your interest alone gives me a boost of hope, making me recognize that I may not be alone after all. I guess just like my grandfather died with his sins on his mind. When I die, on my last breath, I will be simply saying “More food more food for my babies”.
My best wishes, Sebahat