Thousands of animal rights activists marched against the draft law on Sunday, which is seeking to introduce practices currently used in other countries such as collecting stray animals from the streets and euthanizing members of the “excess” population.
More than 10,000 people marched in İstanbul's Taksim neighborhood, and many others walked in 13 other cities, in protest of the planned changes.
There were simultaneous protests in 13 other cities on Sunday, although officials have mostly been silent on the matter.
The draft law was expected to be among the first pieces of legislation to be discussed after the Parliament returned from the recess. However, following a series of protests and reactions from the public, Parliament’s Ecology Commission withdrew the draft legislation to make further amendments.
In addition to ignoring demands that had been voiced by the animal rights community, such as the banning of dolphin parks or the introducing of tough rules against the breeding and selling pets, the draft introduces new practices such as isolating the city's stray animals and relaxing regulations on animal testing. Animal rights groups have labeled the proposal “the law of death.”
The draft came as a shock to the country's animal activists as it was presented to the prime minister after he and representatives of the country's major animal rights groups had met.
Officials say the animals taken off streets will be cared for at “natural life” parks, but Turkey's experience with shelters and rehabilitation centers and the sheer number of animals on the streets due to municipalities consistently ignoring laws on spaying and neutering strays make this physically impossible.
Commission officials said the proposal will be brought into the agenda of the commission after making several changes on controversial articles, ntvmsnbc.com news portal reported.