Animal care

North Cyprus – Lily’s Story – the rescue of a dog from Turkey

Lily’s Story – a new life in the


By Margaret Sheard…



I had recently seen various messages on Facebook by Chrissie Oktekin about a dog she was trying to save in Turkey and thought this would be a lovely story to pass on to our readers of a kind woman’s determination to save Lily.   A little firstly about Chrissie – she has lived in North Cyprus for 15 years and was married to a Turkish Cypriot, Gökhan Oktekin, who unfortunately died some years ago.  Chrissie lives high up in Kayalar on a small estate  where she organised the building of the houses herself.  I must say it is a beautiful setting, cool in these hot summer months, and very quiet.

We visited Chrissie at her home so that we could meet Lily and hear the story about her rescue and how Lily became part of the family.

“I first saw Lily on Facebook on the Gokova Animal Rescue site, which had been shared by Karen of the Turkish Animal Group (TAG) and showed a lovely dog, very similar to a Belgian Shepherd. This was on 15th February 2014. The text which accompanied the photo said “dog thrown from car in Elmali Village and the locals were threatening to shoot it”. Luckily a Turkish lady named Pinar saved her.   I kept going back to look at the photo again and again and then I decided to contact Margaret Ray at Kyrenia Animal Rescue in North Cyprus to find out what was needed to bring the dog to the TRNC.

Chrissie with Rasim and his sons. l-r front Ebbie, Lily, Daisy

Chrissie with Rasim and his sons. l-r front Ebbie, Lily, Daisy

In the meantime, I had been talking to my employee, Rasim, about what I was hoping to do and by this time his children said they wanted to call the dog Lily, and so Lily it was from then on.

I made contact with Karen Wren at TAG and told her if it was at all possible I would like to adopt this dog.   Contact with Pinar was difficult but it was later discovered that she had taken the dog to a Government Pound and with the help of Sonia Garnett of Gokova Animal Resue, Karen established that this was the Marmaris Dog Pound.   I asked if it was possible to get her from there and Karen together with Mustafa Diker did a round trip of 8 hours to collect her and take her back to Didem.

Lily was taken to Mehmet’s Boarding Kennels where she remained until I collected her. Karen took her to the Vet to be checked over, vaccinated and micro-chipped, she had already been spayed at the Government Pound. She was found to be healthy although underweight.   About 3 weeks later Lily had her first rabies injection followed by a second one 2 weeks later and after another month there was a blood test and the results were good.

So began the long and arduous task of bringing Lily from Turkey to start a new life in North Cyprus with myself and my other two dogs, Ebony (Ebbie) and Daisy.   I wondered how my other two dogs would take to an addition to the household.   Ebbie is a pedigree Belgian Shepherd I have had from a puppy and she is now 11 years old. Daisy is of mixed variety, she was a rescue dog here in North Cyprus and she is now 14 years old, deaf and going blind so I was a little anxious at introducing a 1 year old very lively dog to their relatively quiet life.

l-r Chrissie, Ann, Cathy with Lily at Ercan Airport

l-r Chrissie, Ann, Cathy with Lily at Ercan Airport

All that was left to be done was to get a crate, arrange a date and find an airline to carry Lily home to North Cyprus. On 2nd June I travelled to Turkey with my friends Ann Bosley from KAR and Cathy Jackson from Kibris Line Dancers and met Lily for the first time.   She was a happy traveller and sat in her crate watching everything going on around her with interest. I would not board the plane until I saw that she was on board.”

What a very lucky dog to have been rescued by Chrissie and given the chance of a new life in North Cyprus.  On meeting Lily, she seemed very settled in at Chrissie’s home and getting on well with the two other dogs.  The whole exercise was personally funded by Chrissie who was determined to save Lily and give her a good life.  A very happy ending to what could have been a tragic waste of life for Lily.

Chrissie told me that she will be going to Didem in Turkey in September to give some help to Karen who struggles to look after many dogs including the street dogs in non-tourist areas.   I contacted Karen Wren at the Turkish Animal Group (TAG) to get an idea of the trials and tribulations she endures in Turkey trying to look after the unwanted strays and this is what she has told me.

“Thank you for getting in touch and I hope you enjoyed your time with Princess Lily . What a fab girl she is! Turkey is sadly so behind the times regarding animals and it is a constant daily battle just to find funds to feed them. We have 104 dogs at our shelter, 4 in boarding with sickness issues or old. 8 cats I’m fostering. I personally spend 4 hours every night feeding the street animals and it varies,TAG logo it can be around 100 animals or even more. I feed in non tourist areas so they would not survive without me. Ticks and worms are also a massive problem here and kill animals. So we tick and worm every animal we come across, this costs a fortune. It is a constant worry and struggle and some days I don’t know what to do. I go round begging for food to pay later, sometimes I’m lucky I get a couple of days food but if I don’t get the funds to pay it back they won’t do it again as by the time I replace the funds the food is due again. I will never give up on them and will keep trying and hoping things with improve. We are a registered UK charity but to raise funds in Turkey is Illegal as we are a private shelter and not Belediye. I am forever asking people to arrange fundraising events in the UK but we don’t get very far with that either.”

We know there is a problem with stray animals in North Cyprus but from what I have been told by Karen it seems we cope very well here and Turkey may well be able to learn a lesson or two from how stray animals are cared for in the TRNC.  It will always be a problem and without the dedicated work of animal loving people it would be a much bigger problem, so a huge thank you to the volunteers who spend a great deal of their time caring for the animal world everywhere.

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2 replies »

  1. Dear rescuers…..first and most thank you for rescuıng the animals ın need. you all are angels.But to put down TURKİSH people ın general for stray animals….!!!therand suffering.e is a reason why so many strays are in turkey..beacuse they don’t have high kill the rest off the World..also ther is a lot off organizatıons and people ..animal lovers. tryıng day and night to save them and find them a home….and it is not illegal to raise funds..I agree so many dogs should not be homless and suffering..but people are people everywhere in the World.It takes alot to be human….and thanks again million tımes for helping and carıng.

    • Thank you for your comment Buket. I did not intend to put down the Turkish people regarding strays and am sorry that you read it this way. I was trying to get across that the expatriates are not allowed to do fundraising i.e. the British ladies who run Turkish Animal Group (TAG) – Karen Wren and Gokova Animal Rescue – Sonia Garnett. Maybe you could offer some advice or help to these two ladies, I am sure they would welcome anything you could do.