Turkey’s long-awaited animal rights legislation underway

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A long-awaited law proposal about animal rights that seeks jail terms for anyone who kills, abuses or tortures animals will be presented to the Turkish Parliament in the coming days.

The final evaluations were made regarding the regulation plan and a draft proposal was presented to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Central Decision Executive Board meeting held on June 8.

Aiming to curb incidents of violence against animals, some of which even made headlines in recent years, the anticipated law will redefine animals as living beings instead of “commodities” as is the case under current laws.

If the bill is enacted, the jail sentence sought for crimes against animals will be from six months up to four years, which is long enough to effectively block ways of releasing a person on bail or converting the prison sentence to a fine.

A judicial fine of not less than 100 days will be imposed in addition to the prison sentence for sexual abuse of animals.

Prosecutors will be able to open an investigation ex officio without the need for a written application or complaint in case a person is caught “red-handed” in crimes against animals.

Currently, any crime against animals is punished with lenient fines, and courts also handed down light sentences in a few exceptionally brutal cases.

According to the law proposal, if a pet is determined to have been left on the streets by its owner, the owner could face a penalty of up to 2,000 Turkish Liras ($232).

Additionally, the law mandates sterilization of all stray animals in three or four years, assigning municipalities with this job, including the establishment of animal shelters, providing rehabilitation services and administering vaccinations.

Pets will also be tagged with a microchip in order to track them properly.

The ownership, importation, purchase, sale, advertisement, exchange or gift of dangerous dog breeds and crosses such as Pitbull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro will be prohibited.

Owners of animals belonging to dangerous breeds will be able to care for their existing pets until they die on the condition that the animal is registered and sterilized.

These breeds will not be allowed to walk without a leash and will have to wear muzzles. They will also be prevented from entering places such as parks and gardens where children are present by animal police in case of complaints.

Any regulation regarding the complete closure of pet shops was not included in the proposal text.

However, it is also reported that a regulation that would prevent the sale of only cats and dogs in pet shops was still on the agenda.

Hurriyet Daily News

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