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DateLine Sunday, 6 April 2008





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

The ‘same yesterday, today and forever’

Man’s best friend:

“A dog is the only thing that can mend a crack in your broken heart,” Judy Desmond.

The accuracy of the statement is known to those who love and cherish the four legged mammal that may be more faithful than the human being.

And exactly a year ago, when nothing or nobody could ‘mend the crack’ in my broken heart, it was this puppy that did the trick. Although the scar of losing an off-spring is forever, the wound was soon healed after the new bundle of joy arrived at our home and plonked herself on my lap! And I, the superior being, remembered to smile again...

“Take a chance on me, I promise I’ll be good”

Such transparent and unconditional love of a dog make some of the contemporary human beings look almost inhuman, going by the high rates of crime and unscrupulous acts committed by society today. No offence but that’s what I experienced coming off a bad patch - The superior being was at a loss for words seeing me after my ordeal when the puppy expressed a thousand things with its tail.

The results achieved through comfort and love of an animal through its tiniest act could prove to be more fruitful than a costly, two hour counselling session with a shrink.

Living in a world where certain people live on dog flesh and have products tested on animals, cruelty towards these defenceless creatures often go unheeded.

“Don’t leave us when we fall sick’

It was good eye sight and brake oil that saved six malnourished pups huddled up on a ‘tulip’ bag in the rain outside our gate, a few weeks back. After giving them temporary shelter for a week, two were re-homed and the remaining four pups were kindly taken into the animal shelter (AWPA) at Dehiwela in spite of it being brimful of cats and dogs.

At the home, they yearn to be loved and understood..Looking up to you with big brown eyes, offering every ounce of affection they own, smiling with their entire body. Hundreds of these helpless animals live in these shelters being loved to the core by those who run the places. They deserve a proper master and a home to guard with their life, though...

Instead of just dumping the unwanted litter of the pet dog who dies a thousand deaths being robbed of all her pups or the blind dog who guarded your house for 12 years, on the roads, the ‘superior being’ should live up to his standard and learn to be responsible pet owners. Here is what some animal lovers had to say

Mrs. P. Narendran, Attorney-at-law

Dogs and cats are very lovable animals who expect affection from us and are so faithful. Dumping them on the road is actually a sin. They starve, get wet, get burnt in the sun, carry rabies and die a horrible death.

Faithful companions dumped on the road

Dumping animals on the road should be prevented for our own good. That i’s one way of preventing rabies and being bitten by a rabid animal.

Female dogs need some sort of method that can prevent unwanted pups, which will eventually put a stop to throwing helpless animals on the road. Sterilisation campaigns are being held inslandwide which is very good. People should be more careful and responsible when bringing up a pet.

Early sterilisation prevents womb problems and the female dog will be strong like the male dog. There aren’t any side effects either.

Colombo Municipal Council and other organisations have started free sterilisation programs.

Mrs. Hemantha Jayatilake, President, Animal Welfare and Protection Association (AWPA)

We started in 1964. Now we run two shelters, at Dehiwela and Kahathuduwa. They’re transit homes. 420 animals are being looked after at these places but of course the numbers vary.We are able to re-home mainly the pups and not adults.

Shelter for the homeless

Our main aim is prevention of rabies and unwanted litter through birth control. There have been many free sterilisation campaigns for the last few years.

We’ve also started a school program where we try to educate the young about responsible pet ownership. We stress on how to look after pets.

Also educate them on animal rescues, inform us or the nearest veterinary surgeon and give them first aid. Recently a blind dog who was abandoned on the road had been run over by a car.

At the moment, we have three injured animals at the Dehiwela shelter and fortunately, there’s a caring person who comes and attends to these injured animals.

We also put up posters and banners all over the place not to abandon animals. There was an Alsatian who was dumped near our Kahathuduwa shelter because her hind legs were weak.

Whoever who did it, took maximum use of her when she was strong and healthy and got rid of her when she just couldn’t offer any service! Last Saturday our team rescued a family. The female dog had littered pups inside a classroom of a famous boys’ school and some pups were stoned to death. But now the remaining are very happy at Kahathuduwa.

First of all, people should know not to be cruel to animals.We have no authority to go or enter a place and take action against in-breeding. The police should do something or the animal welfare organisations should be given the authority to take action. Good breeds suffer more than the strays in these breeding farms.

Due to inbreeding the pups of the good breeds become weak and are born with defects. People who steal good breed dogs shift the animal to different places and sell them to breeders.

But unfortunately we can’t intervene due to the existing laws. We also have a referral scheme where we have about ten veterinary surgeons working with us in different areas and people who can’t afford the vaccinations are funded by us, but unfortunately we’ve stopped it for the moment due to lack of funds but we’ve organised several things to collect the money we need to start again.

“What chance of survival would a tiny pup or kitten barely ten days old have, on top of a heap of garbage, by the side of a main road without the protection of their mothers? asks Sharmini Ratnayake. “The little ones either die of starvation, dehydration or under the tyres of a fast moving vehicle. Few people care and those few who do are utterly burdened with the selfish irresponsibility of the majority.

“What keeps me awake at night is when I have located tiny pups or kittens that have been abandoned even before they are weaned. Not because of their little yaps or mews but because of the anger and frustration I feel towards those heartless people.

Most often these little mites mums have some sort of providers, I am unable to call it home because no one who gives an animal a home will ever do such an inhumane thing to the mother and its babies. If they are able to guard your home, warn you of danger, control household pests and show affection without reservation, they certainly deserve better.

The female dog or cat is so utterly dependent on the humans they live with, I doubt they would even dream that they are capable of playing dirty on them. Just like children, the animal is so dependent. You wouldn’t treat your daughter with such callousness? The majority being Buddhist who believe in karma, every morning devoutly worshipping at their shrine promising to practise avihinsa, how many of them truly do?

“Give the bitch or the she cat a chance to enjoy their young. All it takes is a paper ad, a little effort and you can easily re-home a pup. That is what we do and successfully. We love animals and the animal senses it and we are hardly ever attacked. I do not expect everyone to handle stray animals like we do.

When we locate the pups, they are vaccinated for rabies, wormed, bathed and de-ticked and after a few days of love, food and care they blossom out to be truly beautiful and then of course there are takers. It is just that most folks are scared to handle strays. Stray or community animals attack only as self defence and that too if pushed to the brink.

Though many animal protection and rights organisations advocate population control through sterilisation against inhumane killings for the past 30 years, it is only recently that President Mahinda Rajapaksa convinced the issue an order not to kill. How can killing be a solution to any problem?

For a predominant Buddhist country, the selfish cruelty one witnesses is getting worse. I feel it is more in the city than the village. The city is full of people who are so selfish that it is frightening.

Hell bent on achieving material benefits wrapped up in their own little worlds, they have no time to sit and enjoy the things that money cannot buy. I am convinced that a little ball of fur can reduce the amount of pills that even today’s youngsters are forced to swallow.

After the Presidential banning of killing the sterilisation programs have been accelerated. There is SWPA,AWPA, Embark from Odel, Ministry of health and many private individuals actively concentrating on the issue.

We are also looking at forming an animal lovers club where individuals are able to give a helping hand whenever possible with re-homing, attending to sick animals, identifying females in need of sterilisation etc. The two shelters run by the AWPA are full with animals. Even though I am a member I try my best like quite a few others not to burden them further. We need help with the pups..

Actually the strays are better off than the pedigree dogs who suffer in cages lacking exercises and other privileges that a free stray dog enjoys.

We condemn the way these ‘breeders’ make money where they abuse the poor animals. So please be responsible for your pet not finding the easy way out by just dumping them in the nearest garbage pit. Contact us and keep them till we find them homes,” - 0112818491.

Mrs. Iranganie de Silva, President, Animal Welfare Trust

“We definitely need new laws when it comes to animals. The little pups that are mercilessly and constantly dumped on the road need their mother’s milk, warmth and love just like human babies.

People are so impatient to get rid of these unwanted pups so they throw the pups on the road even before they start on normal food.

And humans think that they are superior to any other living being.

The bond between the human being and dog is so ancient. The faithfulness of a dog can’t be bought.

I don’t know why the government is allowing to import dogs when we have such healthy dogs of our own in this country.”

Dr. Ashoka Dangolla, Senior Lecturer, Veterinary Clinical Science Peradeniya:

There are two types of dog owners I see in this respect, firstly the owners of pure good breeds who do get pups either for pleasure or for sale.

Most of them do surgically sterilize their females either to prevent unwanted pups or for other medical reasons. Second type of owners are those who own not pure good breeds but some mongrel since most of them are obedient and respectful guardians.

However most of the second type of owners do not surgically sterilize their female dogs to prevent unwanted pups for, as I see it for two main reasons.

Firstly the real owner of the dog is not them, and therefore, expenses cannot be born. They do not even take such dogs to sterilization camps held free of charge ( I have some data to prove this!). Some other second type of owners think that it is the right of the dogs to freely breed and preventing it is a sin!

Leaving pups on the road is not fair by any means. It was revealed in one of my studies that some “rich” individuals with good vehicles and some upper middle class individuals do it often!

This is possibly because they do not want them to go through a burden of having several pups on the road side close to their houses. And also they do not want to look after them or to see them being killed or dead. However, most relatively poor individuals appear to love stray dogs even though they do not vaccinate them and surgically sterilize them mostly due to poor awareness. But such people bring stray dogs for free surgical sterilization camps.

Dog breeding is a business venture for most breeders and they do not see the break even point between humane breeding and profits. Maintaining good breed characteristics is difficult especially for a breed which is rare. In such situations, some inbreeding (not inter breeding) can occur. Anyway, a responsible breeder will avoid such situations. A person who wants to buy a pup should essentially go through a genuine pedigree sheet and see whether the possibility for inbreeding is minimal.

Inbreeding could lead to several problems at times before pups are born when they are in the womb of the mother and therefore, from birth. They could be mostly on bones or muscles. But no organ can be excluded from the possibility.

Malsiri Dias, Committee Member, AWPA:

The reasons for not sterilizing a dog or cat are many. The most important would be the cost. The surgical procedure costs around Rs 1000, the minimum. However, many programmes are conducted at community level, free of charge. The reach of such programmes is limited as the welfare organizations that carry out such programmes have limited resources, both financial and personnel.Other reasons are lack of awareness, irresponsible pet ownership and the inability to catch the community dogs . Of course there are the breeders who promote breeding of PB dogs for sale. It is a question of demand for such pups from those who can buy pups at enormous cost.

However, many such persons are not capable of caring for Pure Bred dogs. Many such pups end up being kennelled, neglected or chained.

Maybe to be abandoned the moment they develop a skin disease or any other congenital disease. In my opinion, these breeders must be educated and taught a few lessons on ethics relating to dog breeding and sale of PB pups.You need not be a vet surgeon to conclude that inbreeding is bad and has resulted in my congenital deformities among Labradors, Great Danes and Dalmations.

Anyone owning a pet dog or cat will know the demands made on their time and other resources in caring for an animal. Just imagine the tasks associated with caring for over 400 dogs at two shelters. The shelter staff is dedicated persons performing a service amidst many difficulties. The role of the volunteers is also important. Then there are the numerous donors and well wishers, the true animal lovers of Sri Lanka. Animal Shelters are not eligible of any government relief either in terms of free vet services, special rates for utilities, or even tax relief on donations received.

Let us start raising awareness on kindness to all living beings among the children.

The AWPA has designed a school level educational programme.We will be happy to share the programme with interested persons.”



Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Ceylinco Banyan Villas

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