Introduction by Chris Elliott……..
The first time I came to Northern Cyprus was for a holiday in 2002. We stayed at a holiday complex and I was so surprised to see lots of cats around the holiday bungalows and soon found out that holidaymakers were feeding them with food bought from the little market on the site, so was it any surprise there were so many waiting to greet you wherever you went.
A few days later sitting in the shade near the pool, suddenly a group of dogs ran through the complex and I will never forget that one of them seemed to have a large tumor on its body. A few days later reading a local newspaper, there was an article about the large numbers of roaming animals and there were suggestions that an animal cull was needed.
Many years later after I moved here and our family and friends came to visit, one of the delights we had was to take them to the KAR Animal Rescue Centre in the Five Finger Mountains and take two friendly dogs each for a walk. Time then moves on and when I started to write and publish articles, one of my favourite subjects was of course, Kyrenia Animal Rescue and perhaps this is because my companion is a cross Alsatian/Doberman bitch called Rusty who was one of the offspring of two dogs I had seen roaming around locally some 9 years ago.
So what happened about all of those animals that were roaming around all those years ago?
Margaret Ray – Chairperson
Kyrenia Animal Rescue
I would like to tell you the story of the beginning of KAR.
Some friends and I got together to form a group to help some dogs we had seen on the streets that were desperately in need of help. With the help of Mr Nidai Güngördü (now our Mayor) who at that time was in charge at Girne Belediye, a piece of land was found between the cemetery and GAU School in Karaoğlanoğlu that we could use. This was prior to the first registration of KAR as a club in 1997. This land we surrounded with fencing and put together temporary shelters to give home to around fifty dogs.
In those days there were very few Veterinary clinics, but help came in the name of Mehmet, who then worked at the Girne Government Veterinary Department, and Dr Mehmet Isfendiyaroğlu, who is now in charge at the Lefkosa Veterinary Department, donated his free time and we began weekly neutering operations. This was in a neighbour’s garage on a kitchen table and using an outside tap for water. Animals were transported in members’ private vehicles and I can remember transporting at least six dogs at a time on the back seat of my old small VW Beetle car. A dog that we had taken in very pregnant produced fourteen puppies but every time there was a funeral at the cemetery the dogs would take up a very loud barking and howling so we decided that we were not in the right area and it was time to move.
Once again Mr Nidai came to the rescue and found us a wonderful piece of land at Beşparmak leased by the Forestry Department. High in the mountains and away from residential areas where the dogs can howl and bark without disturbing anyone. With the small amount of money that we had collected and the support of our members and friends we rebuilt the small derelict house, built a kennel block of sixteen kennels, put in electricity and water tanks. At the beginning of May 2000 a sponsored walk was arranged to walk twenty three dogs from Karaoĝlanoĝlu up the mountain to their new home. They walked in relay with lots of vehicles giving them a break and plenty of water to drink. Now registered as a Society with an application made to become a charity and having obtained our first van thanks to the RSPCA in the UK we moved from strength to strength.
2001 we branched out to care for cats and the money was raised to build a Cattery.
At the end of 2003 the centre was home to 201 dogs and 44 cats. April 2004 saw KAR become a registered charity. It was also the year that we began our Neuter and Return programme at the end of which saw hundreds of dogs, neutered, given a numbered tag in their ear, health checked and returned to where they were collected.
Expansion continued over the years. Thousands of cats and dogs were neutered, found new homes and cared for at our Centre. Many children and students were taught to understand how to care for animals and to be safe around them by our Education team. A Pet Travel department was developed as a professional import / export service to move animals all over the world. We were very pleased to announce in 2015 that we had been accepted as a member of the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) and put TRNC on the map for pet movement.
Here we are now in our 20th year!!!. We have many people to thank over the years. In particular our mayor Mr Nidai who was our help from the start and without his help, we would not have the wonderful Rescue Centre as it is today. Also Dr Mehmet who was our mentor and help with the Veterinary health care of the animals and of course our lawyer Peyman Erginel who spent many hours on our application for Charity status as well as helping us with other legal matters. Following on were many Vets, wonderful volunteers and staff, sponsors, friends and supporters not only in the TRNC but from many parts of the world.
Today 20 years on, we have the largest purpose built Dog and Cat Rescue Centre in the TRNC of which we are all very proud.
To mark these 20 years we are holding a celebration Open Day on 16th May at our Rescue Centre where visitors can see our great achievement and meet some of the many dogs and cats in our care.
We would like also to announce other forthcoming events which will be part of our celebrations the first of which is our annual Dog Show and Spring Fayre to be held on 30th April at the Girne Wednesday Market area. Once again this will be ten fun classes but in addition we will have a special 20th year celebration class. We hope to have many stalls promoting pet products and a range of other KAR stalls selling goods to help raise funds to help the animals.
Following on from our Open Day we plan to hold a Dog Walk with picnic close to the centre so that those people without their own dogs can take a dog from those in our care who will be so excited about joining in a walk!!
In addition we have coffee mornings, lunches etc planned, the dates of which will be announced closer to the time.
Thank you for allowing us to share our exciting news with you. After 20 years we have not stopped and we are determined to create lasting changes for animals in our society and to continue helping the animals for years to come – so watch this space!!!!
Looking back at my first holiday in Northern Cyprus I have so many memories but it is amazing how the plight of the street animals touched me and has remained with me throughout the years and I am looking forward to going to the KAR Dog Show on Sunday the 30th April to help them Celebrate 20 Years of fantastic work caring for the street animals.