The hell at Anuradhapura has no more dogs in it. Irate villagers wanted the dogs removed and gave us a deadline. All 160 healthy dogs were relocated after seven Sundays of treatment for mange, ticks, and fleas, with the support of the Anuradhapura Municipal Council. The dogs were sterilized, de-wormed, and vaccinated against rabies.
Thirty dogs who could not be relocated, as they were too weak, were brought to Kandy and Colombo for adoption. There were of course some deaths from the disease and neglect these dogs suffered for months before our intervention. Before our intervention hundreds of dogs perished at Anuradhapura.
I asked readers of the March 2011 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE to please write to the Sri Lanka health ministry in support of a results-oriented nationwide sterilization program, instead of opening animal shelters like the one at Anuradhapura. “Holding dogs in shelters that are likely to offer zero care is as bad as killing dogs, or worse,” I wrote. “People will not have their dogs spayed at all if these shelters are set up, as they will have ready-made places to dump dogs.”
Unfortunately the North Central Province health authorities set up the Anuradhapura shelter anyway, to incarcerate as many dogs as possible. They wanted the dogs out of their sight, a most unholy wish in one of the holiest cities in the country, undermining the noble intentions of our president, who desired a humane solution to dog population control when he declared a no-kill policy on dogs back in June 2006.
Having set up the so-called dog shelter, the provincial health authorities handed over running it to the unsuspecting Anuradhapura municipal council.
On February 9, 2014, we saw on the TV news several villagers and a Buddhist monk protesting about the inhumane treatment of the 300-odd dogs inside this utterly neglected and overcrowded facility, even as 25 more dogs were being brought to be incarcerated.
The brain behind this, we know, went to Thailand at state expense to educate himself about the shelters there, which are also notoriously overcrowded, and urged Sri Lanka to follow the Thai example. Contrary to his fairy tales, the dogs at the Anuradhapura shelter are not even getting food except some rubbish dumped in the premises periodically. Puppies have been seen dead in pools of blood, possibly indicative of parvovirus. Mange is rife and spreading to all and sundry. Dogs have died of distemper, and more will die if they do not get veterinary treatment.
If these dogs had been sterilized and vaccinated against rabies, and allowed to live where they were, spread out, they would have looked after themselves, not being a burden to anyone.
––Champa Fernando, Secretary, KACPAW
234E, Pallemulla, Haloluwa, Sri Lanka