Nick Papantonis

Multimedia Journalist

Neighborhood Pets

              I still haven’t seen a single homeless person. I’m sure they are around- just not where I’m walking and living (a crowded market is really not a great place for sleeping). Many new migrants settled across the Bosphorus in Europe, which I haven’t been to yet.

               What you do notice are a number of stray dogs and cats running around the streets and shops. They’re on every corner, and often multiple per block. They fit all the definitions of “homeless”, but in reality they’re far from it.

               The inhabitants of Istanbul take incredible care of their neighborhood pets. Almost everyone has bowls of food and water outside their steps, and many have built shelters out of blankets, cardboard, and plastic to keep them out of the rain. Tags on their ears mean they’ve been spayed/neutered and given all necessary vaccines- which the government performs for free. Recycling programs also help feed pets by dispensing food for every bottle- highlighted in a recent viral YouTube video.

               They’re well-conditioned for city life. They know to wait for the humans to begin crossing the street, and they can be found riding ferries and buses alongside other residents of the city. While it’s not as cushy a life as my own dog back home, it’s a fantastic example of the kindness and generosity that Istanbul’s residents display wherever you go. 


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