Apparently Allah once told a story in which an otherwise evil woman went to heaven because she had given water to a thirsty dog, while an otherwise good woman went to hell because she had let a cat starve to death.
The Ottomans, apparently took this to heart and attempted to live by ‘respecting the words of Allah and all his creatures’. After all when you wrong a person, you can always ask them for their forgiveness, but an animal has no reason and therefore no capacity to forgive you.
When constructing roads the Ottomans would place special indented paving stones down that would fill with rain water so that birds and street animals would have somewhere to drink.
The meritorious treatment of animals (especially strays) in the Ottoman empire is quite well documented with numerous examples of shelters being set up for stray dogs and cats and sanctuary’s created for injured storks, as well as all manner of laws that set out how livestock should be treated.
This all came to an abrupt end in 1909 when the municipality of Istanbul collected all the stray dogs and ferried them to an island just outside the city in the Marmara Sea and abandoned them there. They were left with no food or water. The howls and cries of the dogs were heard throughout the city as they died.
The great war that broke out soon after and the defeat and subsequent dissolution of the the Ottoman empire were seen by some as a punishment for what was done to those animals.