Hero couple take in more than 60 stray dogs from cold as Istanbul hit with huge snowfall

Man lets 60 stray dogs into his home to escape Istanbul snow
The animals can have some respite from the cold in the home (Picture: AP)
A Turkish couple have taken dozens of stray dogs into their home to keep them warm amid freezing weather. Tugay Abukan and Burcu Yuksel have long been feeding local animals but the snowy snap – which shut airports and caused widespread disruption in Istanbul – has led them to open up their house too. More than 60 lucky dogs have been given some respite from the bitter cold by the pair, who live in Kuzey Forest, where many are abandoned by their original owners.

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Burcu explained: ‘Because of the bad weather we opened the doors of our home to all the street animals who don’t have protection, don’t have a family.

‘Right now we have over 60.’

Her partner Tugay – known as the ‘forest angel’ for his work feeding hundreds of street dogs for 13 years – has made it his life’s mission to take care of as many strays as he can.

He says he has seen a steady increase in the number of pets being left in the wood near his home, when he goes out into the forest to feed them.

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Tugay explained: ‘When they ask us why we live in the forest, we say “for the children.”

‘This is their feeding spot and this is where they’re abandoned.

‘So we found a place here, we rented a home and settled here.’

He continued: ‘There are many children (dogs) who take refuge with us.

Stray dogs rest in the living-room of Tugay Abukan's home at Agacli neighbourhood in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. During a recent snowstorm which wrought havoc in the city of some 16 million, Tugay Abukan and his partner Burcu Yuksel fully opened the doors of their home and now temporarily live with some 60 canine companions. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
The animals have been making themselves at home (Picture: AP)
Tugay Abukan plays with stray dogs in his house at Agacli neighbourhood in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022.
Tugay Abukan shares a sofa with some of the dogs in his home (Picture: AP)
Burcu Yuksel plays with stray dogs in a snow-covered field at Agacli neighbourhood in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022.
Burcu Yuksel plays with the strays in a snow-covered field (Picture: AP)
Burcu Yuksel, right, and Burcu Yuksel play with stray dogs at Agacli neighbourhood in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. During a recent snowstorm which wrought havoc in the city of some 16 million, Tugay Abukan and his partner Burcu Yuksel fully opened the doors of their home and now temporarily live with some 60 canine companions. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
Tugay normally drives out to feed the dogs in the forest, but the weather means they’ve been given temporary shelter inside (Picture: AP)
Burcu Yuksel plays with stray dogs in a snow-covered field at Agacli neighbourhood in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. During a recent snowstorm which wrought havoc in the city of some 16 million, Tugay Abukan and his partner Burcu Yuksel fully opened the doors of their home and now temporarily live with some 60 canine companions. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
There are thought to be hundreds of abandoned dogs in Istanbul alone (Picture: AP)

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Tugay Abukan walks in a snow-covered field with stray dogs at Agacli neighbourhood in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. During a recent snowstorm which wrought havoc in the city of some 16 million, Tugay Abukan and his partner fully opened the doors of their home and now temporarily live with some 60 canine companions. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
Turkey has been hit by huge snowfall and freezing conditions (Picture: AP)

‘There are those who are sick, those who are elderly. Our door is always open.’

Statistics are difficult to verify, but estimates suggest there could be 400,000 to 600,000 dogs and cats living on the streets of Istanbul alone.

The recent snow, ice and bitter temperatures which prompted the couple to bring some of the dogs inside for extra care has caused chaos in the Turkish capital.

Neighboring Greece has also seen disruption, with major roads block and widespread power outages.

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