SRI LANKA ANIMAL RELIEF OPERATION

  • Opening Thoughts
  • The Animals
  • The Mission
  • Writings
  • For the Future
  • The mission

    Our 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…

    Orphaned 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.

    Last 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 outbreak."

    "These 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 people care.

    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!

     

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