With so many stray animals in Turkey, Mert Akkök finds himself wanting to take in every single one he comes across… and he often does.
Having so many strays roaming around might sound like a bad thing, but because these precious creatures are protected by Turkish law, they’re actually treated quite well. In fact, the locals absolutely adore taking care of them.
“Our government has to neuter and vaccinate them and then put them back on the streets … Anybody in Istanbul can see many homeless cats and dogs wandering around in the city,” Mert said. “But some of them are dumped outside of the city because there are so many. And these ones have big difficulties in surviving.”
That’s where people like Mert come in.
Not only does he take the time to feed these animals, but he also created an entire farm dedicated to nurturing them back to health. The goal is for them to either get healthy enough to venture out on their own or for them to be adopted.
“And I wouldn’t just give them to anyone who wants them,” he said. “They are like my children now. I can give them only to decent and good people who may take very good care of them.”
As time consuming as it can be to care for these animals, this isn’t Mert’s job. In fact, he kind of stumbled into this passion when he found himself regularly taking care of homeless dogs on the weekends.
“Some of these dogs I adopted myself because I couldn’t leave them where they lived,” he said. “They needed care. So I started with one dog and when the number of my dogs reached five, I decided to move to a village and settle in a farmhouse.”
Once Mert and his pups got settled into their new home, he began to expand his shelter to more than just dogs. His first addition was a blind horse. She was just a baby when he adopted her, but now she’s 3 years old and absolutely loves it when Mert plays his saxophone!
Next up was an injured seagull he found on the side of a highway. He took her to a veterinarian, but the poor thing’s wing was so badly fractured that it had to be removed. Without hesitation, Mert took her in as his own.
Fast forward to today and Mert now has 23 dogs, three cats, one blind horse, three geese, 46 seagulls with disabilities, and even a baby donkey.
Taking care of these beautiful creatures requires time and money, but luckily, Mert’s job as a small business owner has given him enough resources to give them the care they deserve. He’s even been able to get help from others!
“I have people working for me at the farm. They are full-time employees taking care of my animal friends and the household,” Mert said. “But I don’t get voluntary help or donations from anyone. I don’t ask for donations either. I am economically well off. I can handle myself and the cost of providing my animal friends with their needs.”
Despite the help he receives, Mert still ends up spending much of his free time taking care of both the animals he’s taken in and the ones on the street — and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I was born with this,” he said. “It is not something I have decided or thought of. It is more like an instinct mounted in me. I can’t stop helping homeless animals.”
Keep up the amazing work, Mert! Share this article with a friend to encourage them to get involved.
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