SRI LANKA ANIMAL RELIEF OPERATION
main mission while in Sri Lanka was to stop the government proposed
eradication of dogs. Officials did not choose this option out of
hatred for dogs, rather fear and concern for human health. Realizing
the government's goal was not to kill dogs, but to stop the spread
of rabies, a plan was proposed. If local services could be coordinated
to administer rabies vaccinations to over 70% of the dogs on Sri
Lanka, perhaps the killing could be avoided. On that notion, an
international gathering of animal welfare organizations partnered
with local veterinarians to do what we all do best - help animals.
It was a grueling task, made possible by the dedicated veterinarians
of Sri Lanka, the caring citizens of Colombo and animal supporters
the world over.
John Glionna, a writer for the Los
Angeles Times, published an article on January 16, 2005 that sheds
light on this reality. Below is a slightly edited version of what
continued to prompt immediate action for the animals of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka Dogs Seen as Danger
Many canines were left to fend
for themselves after the tsunami. Fears of deadly rabies trigger
a government plan to exterminate them.
ULLE, Sri Lanka - They are perhaps
the most overlooked victims of last month's devastating tsunami,
increasingly desperate creatures existing without shelter and little
food or even clean water. And under a new government program, their
days are numbered.
weekend, Sri Lankan officials began planning a dog eradication program
after one person in Ampara province, which includes Ulle, reportedly
contracted rabies, presumably after being bitten by a dog. The victim's
condition was not known. In Ulle, more than half a dozen people
- including two foreign relief workers - have also recently been
bitten by dogs. None has been diagnosed with rabies so far.
Officials say the canine eradication
program will start in the next few days and could soon be extended
to other regions. They plan to poison the dogs with cyanide-laced
meat, although they've had problems finding enough cyanide. "We
really don't want to do this, but dogs are becoming a big problem,"
said Maj. Shene Gunawadhane, a local army commander. "Our country
is at a critical point
. We simply cannot afford a major rabies
dogs are starving," he said. "It's hard enough for people
in these refugee camps to find food. One can only imagine the plight
of these animals. They rely on the leftovers from humans. But now
there are no leftovers. And the dogs will get desperate." "They're
very nice dogs, most of them. This is not their fault that they
have lost their owners. It's very tragic, actually."
At the Hideaway hotel, a small,
brown mutt named Kella - the Sinhalese word for girl - lay in the
dust under a towering tree, one of the lucky animals to wear a red
collar. "She's a good village dog," said hotel owner Vernon
Tissera. "She's not much to look at, but she certainly deserves
to live. So do the others. But what can we do?"
Thank you John and the many others
of the media that helped keep the world informed during this trying
time. Animals the world over can be grateful that so much was done
to help so many in need. A month after the tsunami washed the coast
of Sri Lanka the vaccinations continue. They will continue until
dogs the nation over have been given hope. They will continue because
saving the lives of animals is essential. They will continue because
Thank you especially to the doctors and assistants of Pet V Care.
I consider you all the best of friends - for myself and the animals
of Sri Lanka. Thank you!