A group of stray dogs looked for shelter in a shopping mall, and shop owners were more than willing to host them and provide some comfort in an otherwise cold and unforgiving winter. Winter in Istanbul is no walk in the park. Though it might seem like the Turkish capital is balmy like it’s Mediterranean counterparts in Greece or Croatia, this is more a figment of geographical confusion than an actual fact.
In reality, temperatures reach close to 36 degrees Fahrenheit at this time of year. So while it definitely gets super hot for most of the year, it sure does get frosty at night during the winter months too.
Some of the most affected by these temperature fluctuations are the stray animals of Istanbul! Like any major city, there are tons of cats and dogs who roam the streets living off scraps.
With the temperature dropping, a group of stray dogs sought shelter in a strip mall recently. Perhaps to their surprise, the store owners did not send them off. Instead, they welcomed the dogs with open arms.
These good samaritans did more than just let the dogs roam around the mall without food or shelter. They found cardboard and made little beds for them to sleep in. They also found blankets and pillows for the dogs to lay on – otherwise it would be hard for them to really warm up. Photos of the mall show how transformed the mall looked with all the stray dogs resting in the hallways – what a surprisingly nice thing for so many shop owners to do!
You might be wondering what happened in the morning when the mall opened for businesses. Well, here is where the good-natured attitude of the owners really showed. The dogs were allowed to rest while people shopped!
One store called Penti allowed as many as three dogs at a time to find some rest in their shop. Photos of their shop show the dogs lying on cardboard mats as customers navigated around them to find what they need. The dogs were not very noisy or excited by all the commotion. As animals used to living on the street they were obviously accustomed to dealing with people.
A cafe owner did even more than that. Selcut Bayal took in twelve stray cats when he realized how many needed attention. He did so even in the face of disapproval from some customers. Clearly, the well-being of the animals meant more than extra profit.
Such an open attitude to what some people would label street pests is really a surprise for us to see. If more shop owners could take this approach we would all come to appreciate the cats and dogs that live on our streets – even in towns that are smaller than Istanbul. In North America we are too swift to write off animals that we are not familiar with. If the dog does not belong to a friend or family member then we usually assume it is not worth getting to know.