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Animal shelter overwhelmed by dumped puppies and kittens

Sign board in front of the Wennappuwa Sunaka Sewana (Source: Arosh Perera)

ECONOMYNEXT- Puppies and newborn kittens are sick and dying in an animal shelter run by the Wennappuwa Pradeshiya Sabha which has become a magnet for those abandoning baby animals from far and wide.

The Wennappuwa Sunaka Sevana (Dog Shelter) was welcomed by the local residents and Chairman Susantha Perera was praised for the initiative which uses the land for a garbage dump in Dummaladeniya.

Chairman Perera asked the people in his municipal area to bring their animals to the shelter instead of abandoning them by the roadside.

Perera told EconomyNext that he started this animal Shelter to provide protection and care for the stray dogs and cats abandoned in the area.

“I felt that apart from the development of the area, to provide protection and care for the animals,” he said.

“I instructed the people in my area to just handover their dogs and cats to that place rather than abandoning them,” he added.

But with Social Media users posting about the dog shelter, folks from areas outside Wennappuwa began bringing puppies and kittens they did not want to care for to this shelter with the hope that they will be well looked after.

They did not want to care for them or spay or sterilize their own pets, a typical reaction from pet owners in Sri Lanka who do not want to sterilize or euthanize due to religious beliefs.

Arosh Perera from Dankotuwa is a 21-year old who visits the dog shelter in Wennappuwa daily with his friend to provide food for the animals in the shelter.

He told EconomyNext that there is no proper roof for the animals and the people are bringing animals to the shelter daily and many animals die trying to cross the road.

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Cardboard boxes in place to provide warmth to the animals (Source: Arosh Perera)

Arosh said that people from outside Wennappuwa have started to bring their animals to the shelter

The state of a tent built to provide cover to the animals (Source: Arosh Perera.

He also said that although medications for the animals were done by some animal welfare groups it hasn’t been successful, “Diseases have are already spread among the animals,” he claimed.

A dead kitten in the shelter (Source: Arosh Perera)

Another person who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that all the five puppies she took home from the Dog Shelter in Wennappuwa died of worm diseases within days as it was too late to save them.

She said that although more than enough food has been provided to them by various means, there are little puppies and kittens who have not even opened their eyes who need the love and care to grow.

“There are about 40 kittens who can’t even raise their heads to eat. It has become a breeding ground for diseases,” she said.

Earlier this month, Champa Fernando from the Kandy Association for Community Protection through Animal Welfare (KACPAW) had conducted free sterilizations and rabies vaccination for 21 animals in the shelter.

Animals lying around the garbage dump which is behind the dog shelter compound. (Source: Champa Fernando)

Following the programme, KACPAW wrote to Chairman Perera about the problems they identified saying about 20 or more, hardly a month old pups and kittens were being dumped almost daily by people from as far as Kurunegala and beyond.

The letter also had said that the news that the Dummaladeniya Dog Shelter takes in any unwanted animal has spread across the country via Social Media and soon people will bring animals from other districts too. If that happens, our Sterilization of animals in Wennappuwa will not provide any sustainable results and “the huge investment we make will be futile.”

And that the place is fast becoming a death trap to these animals who would have survived had they been elsewhere. Daily there are new carcasses of animals lying all over.

To which they have proposed solutions such as Removing the words “Dog Care Center” from the board put up there, Do a strong publicity campaign to negate the publicity the PS gave asking people to bring their unwanted animals, setting up a PS fund for Sterilizations, inviting people to donate to it and ensuring that workers do not take in animals for bribes. That usually happens in such care facilities.

Letter Written by Champa Fernando to the Chairman of the Wennappuwa Pradeshiya Sabha.(Source: Champa Fernando)

Save a Paw with Love organisation has supported the shelter and had built a fence around the compound of the dog shelter while a gate was also built to stop the animals from getting out. EconomyNext could not get through to Shivanthi Sansoni who is the founder of the organisation.

Perera said that a health worker who is attached to Pradeshiya Sabha is appointed to look after the animals in the shelter.

Further, he said certain groups of people are willing to provide food for the animals once they tell them the required amounts.

In term of medications for the animals, he said that the area Veterinarian is helping, while certain animal welfare organisations from Kandy, Negombo and Ragama had also offered to provide medicine.

When questioned whether animals die due to lack of care and medications, he said that some animals who are already sick are being leftover by the shelter at night.

“When we started this, at first we didn’t have great knowledge of these things but now we are taking measures to face such things,” he said.

The Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman denied that animals have been killed by accidents while trying to cross the road after escaping the shelter.

He said that an animal welfare organisation from Ragama has helped them to build a fence around the compound recently.

“What I saw was a lot of puppies and kittens were taken by most of the people who come there, only the big animals get leftover, early March we conducted sterilisation to the animals,”

Animal rights activists have been constantly pointing out that there are no animal welfare laws in the country, while a Bill to enact the Animal Welfare Act has been blocked in parliament since 2006.

The Bill received Cabinet approval in 2016 under the former government but it was never passed in Parliament.

The proposal aims to establish a National Animal Welfare Authority, which will have the role to oversee matters in relation to animal welfare and subsequent punishments for breaking the law. Some of the suggestions would be to include penalties for those who abuse or neglect animals, abandon animals on the road or at temples after allowing them to procreate without taking proper responsibility for them, imprison animals in kennels without giving them adequate freedom, haphazardly kill animals and disregard the safety of animals when they are being transported.

The Bill introduces a duty of care on every person who is in charge of animal(s) and the draft Act stipulates a fine of 100,000 LKR as well as a one-year prison sentence for violations. (Colombo/Mar30/2021)

Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe Edited by Arjuna Ranawana

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