Communal Pets in Istanbul

by | Jun 7, 2023 | What I'm Thinking | 3 comments

In the fall of 2021, we went to Istanbul. I’d wanted to go to Istanbul for a very long time—the city that straddles Europe and Asia; the city whose history is Christian and Islamic. The city noted for its beauty and its food. But I had also heard that it was a city of stray cats and dogs. Apparently Islam discourages the keeping of dogs as pets. I was actually a little nervous about this aspect of visiting Istanbul—I don’t particularly like dogs and I have a fear of large dogs and packs of dogs. (I’m not sure why there are so many cats on the streets of Istanbul, since there seems to be no prohibition on the keeping of cats as pets.)

What is also relevant, however, is that Islam demands kind treatment of animals. According to the website Islam Question & Answer, kind treatment of a single animal is enough to ensure one’s entry into Paradise. Therefore, you can see vending machines like this one around the city—places where people can buy food for the many animals that live on the streets of this city.

I want to say that the dogs of Istanbul were possibly the best-behaved and least neurotic dogs I’ve ever encountered. Apparently there is a municipal body that confirms that dogs are all appropriately vaccinated and spayed or neutered. The dogs are friendly if approached, but mostly seem content to be in their doggy world, ignoring the humans who they allow to share their streets.