“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.” ― Mark Twain
Sri Lanka is a popular holiday destination. Many tourists flood to this tropical paradise and its stunning natural scenery. Sadly for the millions of dogs that also live here, they have a very different experience of this paradise.
It’s sadly a common place on any given day in the streets of Sri Lanka to see starving, mange ridden, some missing one of more limbs, suffering dogs. Many are found close to death lying on sides of streets either being hit by cars or trains or dying from starvation. It is estimated that there are over 3 million roaming dogs in a country of only 65,000 sq km ( 25,332 sq miles)
The rescues that do work here face a huge uphill battle. The civil war that ended in 2009 (lasting 3 decades) and the Tsunami of 2004 has meant many human issues that have also affected the welfare of dogs.
The protection of man’s best friend in Sri Lanka is very different to other places in the world, such as Australia, UK, USA and most of Western Europe. In Sri Lanka most of the organisations that do work in this area do not act as only ‘rescue’ organisations (ie: visit the Dog pounds and save dogs from being killed) They also function as medical, education and out reach centers for the country. This huge task is accomplished on very little financial resources, particularly from the Government. Therefore most rescue organisations rely solely on the generosity of donations from the general public.
The protection of dogs in Sri Lanka is made even more difficult as the country has no enforceable animal welfare laws and no fines for anyone who abuses dogs. Another problem that is faced is that dog rescuers do not have rights of access to save dogs that are in danger.
The common theme (aside from Rescue, Rehabilitation and Feeding programmes) amongst Rescues that do work in Sri Lanka to make a better life for man’s best friend is that of Education. Many have out- reach programmes consisting of sterilisation, and vaccinating the dogs and also provide information to dog owners on the treatment and care of their dogs.
There are very few safe havens for the dogs in Sri Lanka. This is also true for some of the dogs who have owners and a home. Most of the time these dogs too face an unhappy life, being chained without any direct access to water, deprived of any affection, and being used solely as guard dogs. As a result many dogs are aggressive and fearful of humans and other dogs.
One of the many lucky dogs to be found and helped by Animal SOS Sri Lanka”
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
Animal SOS Sri Lanka” (A UK registered charity) was founded by Kim Cooling and works tirelessly every day to help the dogs in Sri Lanka. The charity comprises 2 adjoining sites, with the lower 3 acre site housing the larger dogs that are being nursed back to health, and the top 1 acre area which serves as the hospital site. The later site also houses the special needs and older dogs. A ‘normal ‘day for Kim and her Staff starts at 8am and includes the following:
*The compounds are cleaned along with the clinics, bedding washed and kennels and cattery cleaned.
*The dogs are fed, bathed and groomed, given medications; wound care takes place as well as, vaccinations, health checks/ treatments by the Vet for sick animals.
*The surgeries such as sterilizations are usually conducted in the mornings, along with the care and rehab for disabled dogs which includes hydrotherapy in the Indian Ocean.
*In the afternoon, the dogs and cats get their main meal, (over 600 animals are fed on a daily basis) with the staff also going out in a tuk tuk to feed the hungry strays in the area.
*The Rescue is always on alert for emergency cases being brought in, with many dogs being run over by cars/trains being brought in for medical treatment.
A vital part of the work done is also the outreach programmes for sterilisation, vaccinations and treatment.
Despite this huge daily effort the suffering of dogs in Sri Lanka is still a huge problem. The problem requires allot more resources for prevention of abuse and the treatment of injured dogs. The introduction of Animal Protection laws would also be a great start to help in this dire situation. .
Here at Malamute Matters we actively encourage all our members and supporters to become involved as much as they can as spreading the word is one of the many ways of helping to alleviate the suffering of these dogs. With this in mind, here are just a few links to getting involved.