It’s long been said that you can never know a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes, and today you’re going for a walk you won’t soon forget.
German-born Manuela Wroblewski is cursed, threatened and even assaulted as she tries to discretely make her rounds feeding street cats and dogs in the seaside community of Avsallar, Turkey. It’s a bittersweet duty that brings such fulfillment as the animals emerge from the shadows and run eagerly to her feet for their meal. But the daily walk is not without the sting of unwelcome surprises.
One Short Walk…
“While we were on the move, we bumped into a skinny street dog who had a nasty cut on his neck as well as blood running out of his right ear and several cuts,” Manuela explains of a recent day on her beat. “Only 15 minutes later, we bumped into a dead cat that I had been caring for. He was a very friendly one, and what this poor cat looked like now, was shocking. Sara (visiting veterinary technician from Canada) lifted up his dead body and saw that one eye was missing too. She believes, and my vet confirmed, that this cat was abused and poisoned and—while still alive—was put into the open cardboard box where we found it.”
“Down the road there is one apartment complex here where eight cats were peacefully living until a German woman chased them out by throwing stones at them. Now all of them look really confused as they dwell under a pile of trash directly next to a road. When we fed them, they climbed up onto our laps as they were so devastated. Still in shock about this, we bumped into another street dog who was limping badly. We informed my vet this morning and he will come here tomorrow morning to check both dogs out before we will hold the second spaying/neutering day tomorrow. And early this morning the pretty calico cat that was being used as a football by the local kids, was spitting a bit of blood. My vet will examine her too later today.”
What’s Going on Here?
In Turkey, as in many parts of the world, the animal welfare movement has not yet made its mark. It is not unusual for animals to be poisoned or beaten or killed in ways I dare not describe. It’s truly a difficult situation.
We’ve talked about community education programs, but both Manuela and the veterinarian she works with fear that any posters to inform residents about our efforts to spay/neuter the cats or to attempt to address issues of cruelty would most likely inspire additional acts of violence toward the street animals. We’ve not yet penetrated the schools to introduce humane education to children who may be our only hope for a humane future here. There truly is a long road ahead of us here and no one is more aware of that than Manuela.
Amidst this monumental struggle, there are golden moments that buoy our spirits. For example, just the other day a puppy followed Manuela and visiting volunteer Sara Ahmadi for several miles.
“We fed her but she wanted more, she wanted love,” explains Manuela.
So when a rare opportunity arose to rescue the dog and fly him out with a Belgian rescuer, Manuela immediately set out to find the puppy.
“I left at 9 am this morning with my big food bag and with a cat crate and spent seven hours walking and feeding, constantly searching for the skinny puppy. I felt like a robot walking back and forth but after exactly seven hours I spotted the puppy nearly two miles away on the beach. I had a leash with me but she refused to walk on it. So I carried her in my arms all the way while trying to hold onto the bag of cat food and the empty crate. I had to stop a few times as it was incredibly exhausting, but I got her back to my apartment safely and she will now begin a new life with the love she’s been so desperately seeking.”
We Stand With Manuela and You Can Too
Manuela is now firmly tucked under the wing of the Harmony Fund and we’re holding on tight with financial and moral support.There’s also a Facebook group where Manuela shares photos of the cats (and dogs) she’s caring for in hopes of stimulating interest in international adoption. In fact, five cats are coming over at the end of April and will be arriving at JFK International Airport in New York. Three of those very affectionate cats do not yet have families to meet them at the gate and we’re hoping and praying that will change over the next few days. (see photos above)
- Make a donation to help: The Harmony Fund is raising funds to help support Manuela’s work to feed, spay/neuter and provide emergency veterinary care for the animals around her. This is a significant investment and we would deeply appreciate any donations to help our small charity meet this need year round. All donations that come in over the next 33 hours will be automatically earmarked for this project.
- To adopt or escort a cat on flights leaving Istanbul: The search is on for responsible, loving homes for these three cats and others Manuela hopes to help in coming months. The costs of vaccinations, a crate for air travel, the flight and taxes brings the total cost of adoption for each cat to $300. Any serious inquiries may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org We’re also eagerly looking for travelers flying out of Istanbul to the United States or parts of Europe who can ‘escort’ animals during future flights until adoptive families can meet them at the airport.