Stray dogs and cats in Turkey have steadily seen their lives improve as pet food businesses, animal welfare activists and municipal governments have come together to undertake stray animal rehabilitation since 1998, when mass culling of stray animals took place. This was partly due to concerns with rabies. At the same time, the national government has moved legislation and partnered with organizations at the municipal level to implement real change.
Rehabilitation centers in most municipalities receive government funds to provide shelter, food, sterilization and tagging services for stray animals. On 30 September, Konak Municipality’s Animal Rights Federation, in Izimir Province, co-organized a pet awareness campaign and food drive, which was sponsored solely by Lider Pet Food, Turkey’s largest pet food manufacturer and exporter.
“We believe this kind of organization is important to increase pet culture and give the opportunity to pet owners to have fun outside together,” said Gazal Kalbisagde, export executive for Lider Pet Food.
During the event, Lider donated 3.5 tons of dry pet food, citing it as their responsibility to support such social events and to ease the lives of stray animals. Overall, the company donates 50 tons of their pet food annually to various animal welfare programs across the country, to municipalities and private animal shelters both. Lider organizes social awareness events in schools to give children familiarity with pets and sells 150 tons of pet food annually at discounted rates for other charitable purposes.
Kalbisagde also said that with 70,000 tons of production capacity, Lider Pet Food is keen to be associated with the developing pet culture in Turkey. According to its website, the company aims to reduce commercial pet food imports into the country, by providing high-quality local pet food to European Union standards.
Despite an export presence in the Middle East, Africa and Europe, Lider Pet Food is well aware of its massive import-export gap. Turkey imported U.S.$53 million worth of pet food in 2018, while exporting only U.S.$8 million worth, according to the International Trade Centre.
The company is currently focusing on building brand awareness in the global pet food industry to grow Turkish pet food exports. With over 150 products across 12 brands that cater to cats, dogs, birds and rodents, Lider Pet Food is supporting other national pet food companies to develop and improve their production and export targets.
Lider Pet Food exports to several markets outside of Turkey and is working to improve the country’s overall production and export targets. l Courtesy of Lider Pet Food
New shelter data casts doubt on whether the pet population and pet ownership are truly growing.
While the pandemic caused unprecedented suffering worldwide in 2020, the disruptions to dogs, cats and other pets adoption numbers may normalize in 2021.