By Serpil Kadilar………

Following the incredibly fun, interactive and animated initial training session by the KAR Educational Team on the 3rd of October, continuing on Wednesday the 4th of October which presented a perfectly warm and sunny morning for KAR (Kyrenia Animal Rescue) to embark on one of many educational and awareness visits – this time, at Doga School in Ozankoy, Girne. The short yet simple and effective seminar began during the morning assembly held in the school playground – attended by all of the children from this delightful school.

Headmaster Ibrahim Ceylan, School Teacher Nese Gumus, and other members of staff looked on as intently as the children did while Maggie Smith, Carol Widdison and Carole Easton explained the vital work carried out within the KAR Rescue Centre, as well as the story of Annie,  the small terrier, a rescue dog who was fortunate enough to have been adopted by Maggie after a traumatic start in life after having lost one of her legs. Annie was present during this talk, and appeared very content and happy despite the crowd of children and adults before her.

Shortly after this brief seminar, the older children (around year 4, ages ranging from 8-10 years old) were led into the Eco Garden- a natural patch in the school grounds. The lush green field, which has become home to a range of small barn/farm animals was the perfect spot to continue this novelty, fun, yet important lesson.  A gazebo, hosting seating space for the children was utilised as an outdoor classroom. Each child was given a KAR ‘The Happy Pets Workbook’- an excellent educational book with information and illustrations, quizzes and activities which supports the importance of understanding the basic needs of cats and dogs, as well as easy to digest information on how to read about the behaviour of cats and dogs. The workbook has been written and produced by Ann Bosley, Maggie Smith, Carol Easton, Carol Widdison and Elif Todd and compiled to create an excellent read.

…The lesson continues in the gazebo

John Graham of the ‘The Little Society of Kyrenia’ charity, and Billie and Thomas Roche of ‘Living Magazine’ who contributed to the publication of this fantastic workbook were also in attendance.

A Q and A session was met with the enthusiastic responses of the excitable children, before they were dismissed to their regular classrooms to continue their normal school day.

This educational experience was extended to the site of the KAR Rescue Centre on Friday the 6th of October. Located within the picturesque Five Finger Mountains in Girne (Kyrenia), the Centre is home to over 400 dogs and  in excess of 30 cats and kittens. The children from Doga school were taken for a guided tour, where they were familiarized with the animals in the Rescue Centre and the work undertaken to preserve their health and well being. They even had the opportunity to interact with the cats and kittens, which the children and cats thoroughly enjoyed!

The children from Doga School arriving at the KAR centre

Along with massive donations of food and blankets, the staff and children of Doga School brought a wonderful aura of positivity, empathy and an open mind while they visited the shelter.

The mountain of donations from the teachers and students of Doga School

The educational aspect was not exclusive to Doga students, nor is it exclusive to only Turkish Cypriot Schools. Among the students were three incredibly pleasant, compassionate and smart young women from Holland- Imke Achten, Aniek Albeis and Fleur Geurts- who had committed to an internship at the KAR Rescue Centre, and they didn’t come empty handed! In tow, they had brought with them two enormous bags brim full of blankets, bedding, toys and all sorts of goodies, all the way from their beautiful country without a second thought to the excess they had paid for the extra baggage weight on their way to the TRNC. I find it comforting to know that the upcoming generation of veterinary professionals include people who are as kind, generous and passionate as these three women, who I am certain will have long and fruitful careers.

KAR Chairperson, Margaret Ray, Dutch interns, Imke Achten, Aniek Albeis and Fleur Geurts with Community Warden, Yuliyan Hristou (dressed in blue)

I was truly humbled by the work carried out by the KAR charity. I was overcome by conflicting feelings of sadness and awe- these beautiful creatures, each with unique characters, had nowhere to call their ‘forever home’ and I carried the same hope of the staff in the Rescue Centre- that these wonderful cats and dogs will be adopted into a warm, loving family of their very own. However, I was amazed and grateful at the high standards of commitment by staff to cater to each and every individual need of hundreds of animals. All of which are provided with medical attention as needed. Worm and flea treatment and neutering/spaying as standard. High protein diets for dogs who had arrived starving, tailored locations for puppies, kittens, dogs who had been abused (needing extra attention in order to help them settle and trust again). Perfectly measured quantities of food for every dog and cat, toys, and blankets when necessary. I was also amazed at just how clean the Centre was.  I have a kitten who somehow manages to flick cat litter at angles I never thought stones could fly in! How hundreds of cats and dogs are kept so clean, with such few staff (by ratio of staff to animals) is beyond my comprehension. Each and every person who contributes to making this charity what it is should be commended and held with the highest regard. From the educational team, to the literature publishers, the on site staff including Elaine Powell (Centre Supervisor), Caroline Attwood (volunteer), Margaret Ray (Chairperson), Yuliyan Hristou (Community Warden and Diana Peek (KAR Trustee).

I would urge anybody living in, or visiting the TRNC to visit the KAR animal centre, or to donate funding, food or even your time if you have it- with the knowledge that each donation of every type will be utilized for the cause it serves to protect and preserve- the well being of the adorable cats and dogs who are fortunate enough to have such wonderful and dedicated people committed to them.

You can find all details, including location, contact details and ways to donate by visiting the KAR website:   http://www.kartrnc.org/

Currently in their 20th year of operation, I truly hope this charity will expand further and continue to reach our furry friends in need.