In many cities around the world stray dogs are part of city life. One such city is Istanbul, where 150 thousand stray dogs and cats share the streets with 14 million human inhabitants. A clever device by the Turkish company Pugedon aims to increase recycling while providing food and water to stray dogs and waking up our kindness and humanity.
The topic of stray dogs is often polarized. Turkey, in particular, has a history of controversial "solutions" to the problem. In 2012, the government drafted a law that would send city dogs to “wildlife parks” on city outskirts. The proposal outraged animal rights activists who referred to a brutal act of animal cruelty from 1910 when the city’s stray dogs were sent to an island and left there to eat themselves to death or die of hunger.
Whether we like it or not, we have to take responsibility and accept the fact that stray dogs and cats didn’t just appear one fine morning on our streets. As Istanbul-based animal rights lawyer Ahmet Senpolat says,
"The draft law does not address the problem at the core: animal smuggling and illegal pet shops. Animal smugglers only face a fine of a few hundred euros at worst, they continue to bring expensive pure-bred puppies and sell them to pet stores. People often buy the puppies from pet stores, and abandon them when they become too tough to handle."
Until we are ready to address and fix the core of the problem we’ll have to accept that stray dogs have become urban dogs and co-inhabitants of our cities. They have learned to survive in a completely different ecosystem – one with traffic lights, humans, and trash bins that provide food. Still, food is often a problem and dogs often rely on the kindness of strangers to be fed.
It is this same kindness that Turkish company Pugedon aims to tap into with its street recycle-bin-kibble-dispenser. The device encourages passersby to recycle and look at our animal co-inhabitants with different eyes. The principle of the machine is very simple – it has containers for water (you can pour the remaining water from your bottle before recycling it) and for dog food. A fixed ratio of kibbles is dispensed when a bottle is recycled. The project is independent from the government and covers the cost of the food with the recycled bottles.
I, personally, am a fan of any campaign that makes us stop and think critically about our society.