Humane approach needed to tackle stray dog menace: AWAC at war with dog killings | Sunday Observer

Humane approach needed to tackle stray dog menace: AWAC at war with dog killings

The recent alleged killing of stray dogs and feral cats at the Moratuwa University is yet another episode in a series of similar incidents which highlights the Government’s failure to bring about a final and humane solution to dogs loitering around the streets, with no rightful owners.

The incident received wide attention when the news and related photographs were circulated on social media stating that the stray dogs within the Moratuwa University premises were being killed.

Initially, it was said to have been done with the blessings of the Ministry of Local Government and Provincial Councils. However, information later surfaced that a private security firm entrusted with clearing dogs from the University premises has opted for this cruel and inhuman approach.

Several videos posted by students showed the animals being injected with a substance called ‘Ketamine’ which is used to tranquilize the animals. However, the firm had injected a higher dose which led to the deaths of these animals.

Numerous complaints

Speaking to the Sunday Observer, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Moratuwa, Prof Ananda Jayawardena said, according to the agreement the University entered into with the security firm, the latter should ensure that the premises are cleared of any stray animals.

“We received complaints, both from students and lecturers saying that the clutter created by these animals results in a very unpleasant sight within the compound. Therefore, it is my duty to ensure that a proper atmosphere is maintained in order to carry out daily activities.” the Vice Chancellor said.

Head of Intergrated Design Department, R. M. B. S. C. K Rathnamalala said, the administration had received numerous complaints about the mess created by the animals.

“When you enter the compound in the morning it is a very unpleasant sight where the dogs and the cats have pulled out garbage cans and littered the area. The food court was the main area where these animals would stay. Of course, I am not saying that killing these animals should have been the option, but we have to acknowledge that there was an issue that needed immediate results.” he said. The Vice Chancellor says, a formal investigation has been initiated into the incident and a report called for.

Many Animal Rights Activists and animal lovers have frowned upon such cruel treatment of innocent dogs and cats. The Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAC) issuing a statement to Minister Faiszer Musthapha, publicly expressed their dissent at the continuing massacre of dogs in Sri Lanka, despite the No-Kill Policy on Dogs, effective in the country, as well as the Minister’s promise to the AWAC that such killings would not happen.

The AWAC shows that this incident is not isolated and similar incidents by public entities have been continuing. Accordingly, they highlight incidents where such cruel activities have taken place or alleged to have taken place.

  •  the University of Sri Jayewardenepura dog killings by a pest control company identified as Ultrakil,
  •  reports that dogs at Rathnapura Hospital were sedated and taken away (fate unknown),
  •  dogs at University of Kelaniya were allegedly gassed/killed,
  • dogs at Rajagiriya Ayurveda Hospital have been or are to be removed/killed and,
  • dogs and cats at the University of Moratuwa have been administered lethal doses of sedatives by Rakna Lanka Security Services (2 dogs and 10 cats were found dead, 1 cat died later).”

“We agreed to serve in the AWAC as Animal Welfare Activists at the Minister’s invitation in order to establish a realistically sustainable, practical and humane program, mutually beneficial to the animals and the public, in order to solve the street dog issue. However, none of the proposals we have made to date as the AWAC on the above issue, from as far back as February 2017 when the committee was formed, has progressed beyond the presentation stage,” the AWAC states in their communiqué.

They heavily criticized the government’s lack of interest or failure to find a humane solution to this prevailing issue. Stating that continuous killings of dogs and cats in public and government institutions show that the No-Kill Policy on Dogs has been rendered into a mockery and the formation of the AWAC is nothing but a façade, created to avoid public criticism against killing of these animals. The AWCA has called upon Minister Faiszer Musthapha to publicly announce that no one can kill dogs citing public nuisance and other issues, and if anyone does, the Ministry will take legal action against such persons, regardless of his/her position.

Animal rights

Meanwhile, other activists have taken the initiative to file a petition against these activities. According to Animal Rights Activist and lawyer Lalani Perera a large group of Buddhist clergy and animal rights activists have come together to stop this cruelty, taking place within public institutions, by filing a fundamental rights application in the Supreme Court in the public interest.

Among the Respondents are the authorities concerned with local government, the heads of institutions in which dogs were exposed to various forms of cruelty and the companies to which contracts were given to eliminate or abandon the dogs.

The Application will be supported by President’s Counsel Sanjeeva Jayawardene. Speaking to the Sunday Observer, she said, although these dogs may not have rightful owners they shouldn’t be branded as stray dogs since they are cared for by compassionate persons and identified as community dogs.

“As for dogs who have been removed without any transparency, there are reports that they have been poisoned or abandoned in remote areas where they cannot survive. These were dogs sterilized and vaccinated against rabies and providing a ‘buffer’ against the influx of unvaccinated dogs. The activists point out that these killings are taking place while a Presidential “No Kill Policy” of 2006 is still in operation. This Policy prohibits killing and directs as the alternative, CNVR (Catch-Neuter-Vaccinate-Release) which is the globally accepted humane and sustainable method of stray dog population and rabies control,” Lalani Perera said. Although there is the need to maintain order and limit the chaos created by stray dogs it is important that it is dealt with in a more humane approach.