The only thing outdoors is the cold weather, the fog and dogs. One of the dogs jumps over the fence, landing in a cabbage field. He continues to walk down the field, sniffing cabbages, and jumps through the broken window of a seemingly abandoned home, disappearing from view. The other dogs are walking around and wagging their tails in front of coffee houses in the village square. They look like bullies prowling the streets. A truck filled with bread pulls up and all of them start to bark in unison. The driver rolls his window half-way down to tell us, "I can't walk in the streets because of these dogs." People step out of coffee shops holding cups of hot tea when they see us walking around the village. They tell us "Be careful. These are stray dogs coming down from the woods," and invite us inside. All the dogs that have been abandoned are pedigreed dogs. You know, the kind sold for a lot of money. Even though they are covered in mud now, it's obvious that they used to be the precious dogs of wealthy families. You can tell they've seen a grooming salon before but are now chasing abandoned chickens and neglected sheep around villages near the Ömerli Dam. These urban dogs that used to eat expensive meals now steal chickens from villages to fill their stomachs.
The woodland between the Şile Highway and the Ömerli Dam has turned into a valley of dogs. Abandoned by their owners, the animals have come to this forested area trying to survive. A couple of animal lovers leave food along the Şile highway, but it is not enough to feed the growing number of stray dogs. "They come in the evenings, stopping in a dark corner, open the trunk and drop their dog off in the woods. Then they step on the gas and drive off. The poor dogs wander around in the woods and come across other abandoned dogs. Then they all come down to the village for food," says Kervansaray Village Mukhtar İsmail Albayrak and adds that residents are worried about the growing number of stray dogs in around 10 nearby villages.
Apparently, the villagers took care of the abandoned dogs at first. But when they started increasing in numbers 10 at a time, they could no longer care for them. Hungry, the dogs started chasing livestock around the village. Sündüz Canbaz from the village of Bıçkıdere says she saw one dog eat her chicken alive right in front of her eyes. Muhammet Öztürk, a retired citizen, said the dogs ate 25 of his chicken. During the four-day Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), two sheep that were to be sacrificed were eaten by dogs. They also attacked cows grazing in the meadow and ate the calves. Eventually people with livestock started shooting dogs that came close to their animals. İsmail Odabaşı, a coffee shop owner in the village of Kervansaray, says that "children are afraid to go outside and you can't walk in the streets if you have bread in your hand. They even attack if you're just holding a purse." As for Gülsüm Albayrak, she laments being unable to eat the cabbages and leeks she cultivates in her garden. She says the dogs defecate on the crops, leaving her no choice but to close down her greenhouse. Village women are very bothered by the dogs, which have apparently attacked an old lady twice. Bıçkıdere Village Mukhtar Yunus Akın says: "They can check the hospital records if they want to. I took her myself." When the villagers informed the local municipality and governor's office, they were told to give them the license plate numbers of cars that pulled up with stray dogs.
Şevket Yıldız, a resident of one of the villages, warns that if necessary measures are not taken an epidemic could start in the area, noting: "Some dogs are in such terrible condition that if you saw them you would not be able to eat for two days. They have severe skin damage and mange. If measures are not taken, villagers could get infected as well."
Turkuaz dog pound owner Tuncer Ak says the number of dogs is rapidly increasing because stray dogs are not being neutered. He believes the situation will worsen if measures are not taken. Officials note that dog shelters are not enough to house the increasing number of dogs, while Akın recalls that until two years ago, villagers could walk outside at night without fear but since this increase in stray dogs in the area, they are scared to be out after sunset. "During the Feast of the Sacrifice a boy went missing in the Oruçoğlu village. He spent a night in the woods. Nothing happened to the boy, but if he were near the village he would not have survived. We are afraid to go outside in the evening because of the dogs. We can't walk from one village to another because they attack us," he says.
First we look at the smoke-emitting homes in a valley that sits between two green hills and then at the tree-covered area where we hear dogs barking. The village is shrouded in fog. The cold weather and light rain remind us of the movie “Twilight” and the show “Valley of the Wolves,” although it would be more accurate to call this place "valley of the abandoned urban dogs."