Street dog in Istanbul becomes an influencer on social media

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Street dog in Istanbul becomes an influencer on social media

Images of Boji, a youthful mix of Anatolian Shepherds, with his head to the side, lying on a chair or cuddling with passengers on various modes of public transport in Istanbul are going viral. The roaming dog has his own Twitter account, gaining more than 50,000 followers in less than a month, as well as an Instagram feed where he catalogs his travels through the historic megapolis. On a recent day, Boji traveled 30 kilometers, or nearly 20 miles, his way across the Bosphorus and back.

Boji is one of thousands of mutts and cats that roam the city. Istanbul is known for its hospitable hospitality to stray dogs and cats, inspiring documentaries including the heartwarming “Kedi” or ‘Cat’.

Boji has been formally registered by the Metropolitan Municipality of Istanbul, as can be seen from the large green plastic tag attached to his ear. The tag allows the municipality to track him and provides proof that he has been repaired and regularly vaccinated against rabies and therefore poses no danger.

Properly insured commuters in the 16 million megapolis who come across Boji frolic and take pictures and selfies with him.

The municipality manages the animal’s social media accounts, ostensibly to promote public transportation use, environmental protection and compliance with public safety rules. For example, in one shot, Boji is seen at a subway station, waiting for a train. “For safety reasons, I never cross the yellow line. You shouldn’t either,” he advised in the tweet.

However, it wasn’t long before his account managers robbed him of his innocence. In an Oct. 2 tweet, Boji thanked Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu for following him. In another, he posted a video of Imamoglu walking up an escalator in Istanbul’s metro. “Are you looking for me on the subway, my mayor?” asks Boji.

Unsurprisingly, the municipality has been attacked for “using” Boji for its own public relations. Critics argue that the municipality is endangering public safety by letting him roam free. A video shows Boji pulling the arm of a male passenger. He is playful. Opponents claim that Boji was aggressive.

It’s no secret that Imamoglu, who conquered Istanbul of the ruling Justice and Development Party in the 2019 municipal elections — has bigger prizes in view. The media-savvy former businessman works hard to win hearts and minds ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections to be held in 2023. The chairman of his main opposition Republican People’s Party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, is said to be wary of Imamoglu’s ambitious slant and is considering a presidential run himself.

Whatever the outcome, in the Turkey, projecting an animal-friendly image can do no harm.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently tweeted unusually sweet photos of himself playing with his granddaughter’s kitten.

It is called Pit Pit Seker and according to Erdogan it is “very interested in current affairs”.

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