This adorable little puppy had his legs and arms chopped off before being dumped in the woods
Animal rights has always been a subject of controversy in Turkey. With increasing reports of cruelty hitting the news, and animal rights groups insisting that the country's punishments for animal cruelty are too lenient, it seems like a problem that's destined to be debated for a long time.
However, the issue has well and truly hit home for many people this week, after a puppy was found with its legs and tail chopped off. Tragically, the puppy died during surgery after it was rescued from a forest in the Spanca district of Sakarya. President Tayyip Erdogan revealed to an election rally in Istanbul on Sunday that local police had detained a construction machine operator on Saturday in response to the dog's death.
After the extreme case of cruelty became public knowledge, outrage was spurred across Turkey and it became a key issue in the political agenda ahead of the election next week.
Warning: This article contains images that may be disturbing for some readers.
The incident prompted shocked reactions from thousands of people across the country, as well as all of Turkey's main political parties and presidential candidates, who were encouraged to show a rare moment of unity in the midst of trading insults ahead of the June 24 elections.
"This brutality against a small being is a painful manifestation of the loss of values in our country. I hope to God that those who hurt a small puppy find what they deserve in the afterlife," Iyi Party leader and presidential candidate Meral Aksener wrote on Twitter after the news broke. "‘If only they would do so in this world with the correct laws as well."
President Erdogan himself promised that Turkey’s animal rights laws would be amended after the vote - in which he is aiming to win a second term - stating: "Whether at home or on the street, we will take the law into consideration and evaluate it. This operator was arrested today. The authorities in Sapanca ordered his arrest."
For years now, animal rights organisations have insisted that the transcontinental country's punishments for animal cruelty are too lenient.
An amendment to animal rights legislation has been on the parliament’s agenda for months, with a new government bill sent to parliament back in April, proposing animals in Turkey "are not property," a landmark change of perspective in Turkish law.
The new bill states that those who torture animals will receive four months to three years in prison. If the perpetrator violates the freedoms of multiple animals in the same instance, his or her sentence will be increased by one and a half times, rising from six months to four-and-a-half years in jail.
Nonetheless, little progress has been made and the head of a leading activist group has slammed the bill as a "license to kill," opposing the government’s view that it could help Turkey’s animal violence problem, particularly against strays.