How an Animal Lover Rescues Hundreds of Strays Around the World
Sara Graham was supposed to be helping Therese Sundbrink brand her Turkish rescue charity but as an animal lover she couldn’t help being drawn in.
She found homes for about 50 cats and 50 dogs and raised thousands of dollars for their transport and medical expenses through the Facebook page she started for Tails of Istanbul four years ago.
And then in 2019 she adopted Lion, a large, orange Turkish Angora cat found badly injured in the woods outside Istanbul, wires wrapped around his middle.
“It snowballed,” said Ms Graham, who left Bermuda in 1998 and runs a branding and website development company, Fresh Presse. “I was really heavily involved in getting word out through the Facebook group.”
Then living in Turin with her Italian husband, Mario Baldi, she flew to meet Ms Sundbrink and was shocked by the hundreds of stray dogs and cats roaming the streets of Turkey’s largest city.
“Some of them were injured and that was hard to see,” she said. “On the other hand, the people there seem to care about the animals, and feed them on the street. Of course, there were some jerks who beat the animals, and there was trauma.
“Hopefully, the attitude is changing a bit, but a lot of people don’t believe it is right to spay and neuter an animal for whatever reason. I can respect that, but when you have an overpopulation problem you need to start thinking differently.”
Equally astonishing was the shelter that housed roughly 3,000 animals. Ms Graham was taken there by Ms Sundbrink, who was working to upgrade the cat area.
“They had rows and rows of cages. It was just huge. It was pretty loud, but the people working there seemed to really care about the animals.”
She is now pulling back from her work with Tails of Istanbul but planning to help out at animal shelters once in Spain.
She has discovered that when it comes to animal rescue, every day is an emergency.
In February 2020, Tails of Istanbul got a message from a tourist who found a dog and her six puppies in an old building. With the help of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, they rescued the dogs and spayed and neutered them
One puppy, Rita, who also found a home in Ontario’s capital city, had distemper, a contagious and serious virus that attacks dogs’ respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems. It left her with severe dental malformation and a tick.
Ms Graham struggled to find a vet in the Toronto area that would treat Rita’s teeth. She eventually found one who charged $4,000 for the surgery.
“Because of the tick, vets were worried about her having a seizure during the treatment,” she said.
Ms Graham sought help through a crowd funding page, and ultimately came up $250 short of her goal. Rita had the surgery last week.
Animal lover Sara helps strays live their best life Royal Gazette