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Breed Discrimination in Turkey

Umut Erdem – ANKARA
License should be acquired for pit bull ownership: Commission
A license system should be applied for pit bull dogs, according to a recent meeting of parliament’s Animal Rights Research Commission.

An academic of Ankara University said at the meeting that the pit bull was like a “weapon” if “there is a person pulling the trigger.” “We should expose [their sale] to a certificate or licensing system and bring some criteria. Their entry into some public space areas should be limited and walking them without a leash or a muzzle should be completely banned,” said assistant professor Oytun Okan Şenel.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP Deniz Yavuzyılmaz agreed with Şenel, saying that whoever did not have that license should not be allowed to walk their pit bull.

The commission chair Mustafa Yel, a deputy of the ruling Justice Development Party (AKP), said during the meeting that pit bull dogs are not violent unless their owners train them so. “Therefore, the situation is not that they will be banned. But we think that if a crime is formed by people who train them and make them violent in some way, these people should face the consequences and be punished,” said Yel.

“So, we have a system in mind that instead of animal types being banned, it is rather humans who should get punished,” he said.

“In general, we should not ban a species, but there should be a license to feed this species [pit bull dogs], own them and acquire them,” Yel said.

Parliament’s Animal Rights Research Commission continues with preparations to make a new draft animal rights law. The biggest issue with the current law is that it describes animals as “commodities,” which makes it possible for animal abusers to get away with mere monetary fine.

Accordingly, the commission has been holding meetings with activists, nonprofit organization representatives, academics and other people involved in animal welfare to change the current law.

Yel told Anadolu Agency last week that they want the new animal rights law to be enacted in parliament by the end of this year. “We want all animals to be described as living beings,” Yel said.

A draft law also stipulates drivers to come to the aid of animals if they are to injure them in a traffic accident.

“We want citizens who do not help animals after an accident to be punished according to [new] Turkish penal law,” said Yel.

The draft animal law is expected to be debated in parliament by the end of the year, with widespread, cross-party support.

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