Iranian motorbike racer Maryam Talaie
With a passion to help animals, an Iranian motorbike racer and film actress has established a shelter for 150 handicapped stray dogs.
Maryam Talaie, who is the winner of a women’s motorcycle race two years ago and starred in numerous movies, rented a space in the Shahriar town, some 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) from the capital Tehran, and established a shelter for disabled, blind, or abandoned stray dogs, which she has been caring for over the past seven years.
Talaie, who grew up and lived in Canada, now works with an insurance company and as a driver trainer, began a search for animals who were disabled on the street, blind and had no shelter.
Her acquaintances began supporting Talaie in her quest to help animals in need when she created the shelter on her own.
She told Anadolu Agency that her shelter’s supporters execute the tasks that should have been performed by the local municipality and other government authorities.
She said she had to work multiple jobs at the same time and sell her car to pay for the shelter’s expenses before her circle started supporting her.
Talaie currently cares for 150 dogs in a 900-square-meter (some 9.700 square feet) plot that has been converted into a shelter. Some of the dogs have crippled legs, are blind, or require treatment.
She has two dogs that were injured during the 2017 earthquake in Kermanshah, western Iran.
She is interested in the nutrition and treatment of animals in the shelter, Talaie said, adding that when surgical intervention is required, veterinarians come and operate. “Its cost is quite high.”
Underlining the wrong perception of the people and culture in her county towards animals, Talaie said cases of animal abuse and maltreatment are on the rise, and that the government’s media policy is exacerbating the problem.
“Day by day, the persecution of these mute creatures increases,” she stated.
Many institutions that are tasked with caring for dogs and other animals and get huge funding fail to do so. However, it is done more sparingly and with greater care in the shelter house.
She said the killings of animals have escalated in the country, with no measures taken to stop them.
“Instead of initiating programs for animal protection and supporting people like us, the administration is putting hurdles in its work,” she bemoaned.
*Writing by Dilan Pamuk in Ankara