A new report presented to the Turkish Parliament by the Turkish Grand National Assembly’s Animal Rights Research Committee recommends comprehensive changes to welfare requirements and the addition of legal protections for animals throughout Turkey.

This report, which includes input from nonprofits, activists and academics, follows wide publicity over recent cases of extreme cruelty in Turkey  — including a Lady Freethinker petition calling for justice for a dog whose ears were cruelly cut off. Our petition gathered nearly 1.8 million signatures and major media coverage.

While animals are not considered subjects or persons under Turkish law, the report says they should be afforded legal protection including required prison sentences for individuals who abuse them. In certain instances, recommended sentences require at least 25 months of imprisonment without the possibility of commuting the sentence with a fine.

In the report, the Committee calls for the outlawing of planned animal fights and of bestiality in addition to banning the injuring, killing, and eradicating a generation of a population. It recommends the removal of the distinction between stray and domestic animals with regard to their legal protections and the institution of a fine of at least TL 10,000, which is about $1,750 at the current exchange rate, for the abandonment of an animal.

If the recommendations in the report become law, convicted animal abusers will not be able to have a pet and caregivers must meet welfare standards. The report also encourages adopting over buying, creating protections for horses used in the tourism industry, and banning the entry of circus animals into the country and use of marine life for entertainment.

The Turkish government’s action and the Committee’s report are encouraging and powerful reminders of the positive change we can make for our animal counterparts when we give our voices to the voiceless. Thank you to everyone who took a stand against animal cruelty in Turkey — we now urge Parliament to act swiftly on these recommendations and help stop animal abuse across the country.