The Law on Animals Passed by The Ottomans and Sample Events From The Past (via Ottoman History Picture Archives)

An Ottoman fed the dogs

The Ottomans had cultivated such profound love and justice for animals that they did not have the heart even to disturb the spider webs in their houses.

The regulations and some sample events are as follow:

– Foundations to protect and cultivate animals and trees were established.

– Cat hospitals were opened in Üsküdar and Dolmabahçe.

– These foundations fed the animals when food and water was scarce, they put water bowls for the animals (Merey 1978: 605-612).

– To enable birds to drink water safely and easily, water bowls were put on the high walls in mosques.

– During the reign of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror it was mandatory to place in the new constructions water bowls and drinking basins to enable birds to drink water safely and easily.

– Water bowls for birds in cemeteries is a practice specific to our civilization alone.

– It was a law that near mosques and tekkes an area would be spared to provide care for the cats and dogs and cats would be fed each new day with liver and clean water.

– Foundations were set to provide food, accommodation and health care service for the street animals. At the sole expense of these foundations huts were built to provide shelter for puppies and kittens. There were also regularly paid workers of these foundations in charge of supplying food and clean water to these huts.

– In freezing winter months, in order to keep wild animals on the hills, prairies and woods alivefresh meat, plants, salt, bird food and hays were left to their natural habitats. The cost of such food and salary of the care takers were either met by treasury or foundations themselves.

– It was strictly forbidden to hunt the offspring of game animals or animals at the stage of pregnancy or breeding.

– The Ottomans built refined and elaborate shelters for animals equaling to the beauty of houses. The best exemplifications are carved and decorated bird palaces.

– Our ancestors placed water bowls along the roadsides for wild animals and supplied great amounts of food to feed these animals.

-In the midst of winter, the deer with no food on the hills were fed by “deer caretakers”.

– During the time of migration it was forbidden to hunt birds.

– Kanunnâme enacted during the rule of II. Bayezid was to protect the rights of animals (İstanbul İhtisâb Kanunnâmesi (Book of Law)

– During the construction of Süleymaniye Külliye (Social Complex) in 1550, a firman (decree) was passed to ban loading of animals with extreme weights.

– During the reign of III. Muratin year 1587 a firman (decree) was passed to ban loading animals with extreme weights.

-In 1600 it became unlawful to kill animals of which meat was not edible. New sanctions were introduced on edible animals.
These sanctions were:

  • the knives used to cut edible animals must be sharp enough,
  • the animals to cut must be blindfolded,
  • the butchers must be master of their domain,
  • the animals should feel minimum pain while being killed.

The state officials would periodically control the implementation of these sanctions.

-The state enforced certain regulations to protect the animals that carried supplies and ammunition of the official bodies and to provide them shelter in the specific locations till they died. In 1654 animal farms were founded for these animals where they could live and receive care till they died. In the course of time the number of these farms multiplied.

-The Ottomans donated their own properties for the accommodation and feeding of animals. In order to put their will into action, they applied to judges and officialized their wills. Judges commissioned bakers and butchers to enact these wills and bakers and butchers took care of the animals as ordered. The judge preserved the right to supervise these officials at all times.

– In 1856 a new regulation was introduced to rest pack animals on Fridays and allow their relaxation on this specific day. Anyone violating the regulation received severe punishment. City police commissioned by Şehremin were authorized to inspect the residents.

– City police commissioned by Şehremin (mayor) checked the bellies of animals to detect if any animals were left hungry.If they found a hungry animal the owner was punished.

– Abandoned street animals were fed and hosted by the locals and tradesmen.




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