Strays at bay on Perahera days | Daily News


Strays at bay on Perahera days

KACPAW keeps community dogs temporarily under its care during the Kandy Esala festival

Before each Esala Perahera, Sri Dalada Maligawa requests the Kandy Municipal Council (KMC) to remove community dogs within the Kandy city square through which the Perahera parades for about 15 days, Kandy Association for Community Protection through Animal Welfare (KACPAW) Secretary Champa Fernando said.

According to Secretary Perera, in 2017 and 2018, the KACPAW helped the KMC Veterinary Department by removing these much loved community dogs and keeping them temporarily under its care for the duration of the Perahera. In 2017 and 2018, the KACPAW housed 80 and 83 dogs, respectively.

KACPAW Secretary Champa Fernando 

“All the dogs are vaccinated against rabies, parvo and distemper and any unsterilised dogs (a handful) are sterilised before we release them back to their places after the Perahera,” she said.

“The KACPAW will ensure the safety of these beautiful and innocent dogs this year too. However, there may be lesser number of dogs than 80-odd, because, in February 2019, much to the distress of many here and abroad, about 30–35 community dogs in and around the Dalada Maligawa were killed or dumped somewhere after giving them high doses of sedation. To date, we do not know the fate of these harmless dogs despite a police complaint. We had an assurance from former Central Province Governor Maithri Gunaratne that such inhumanity will not be repeated in the Central Province. We sincerely hope not,” the KACPAW Secretary said.

“If the KACPAW does not step into safe-keep, these much-loved community dogs are caught and dumped either at a rubbish dump or wherever, causing a huge animal welfare issue which will bring negative publicity to the Perahera, the foremost Buddhist pageant in Sri Lanka attracting the world’s attention. Hence our intervention again, at our own costs, which runs into several hundred thousand rupees, the total of which we are unable to generate,” she said.

“Ideally, an annual fund for this humane activity should be set up and we suggested that to Kandy authorities, from whom we have had no response, sadly. Hope this need for a separate fund catches the attention of government authorities,” she said.

The KACPAW is all about making the lives of dogs in Sri Lanka better. It is a non-profit-making, registered NGO, formally established in January 1999, having started work on caring for destitute dogs in November 1998.

The KACPAW’s vision is to eradicate rabies from Sri Lanka using humane methods and their mission is to ensure dog welfare primarily through sterilisation (spay or neuter) of dogs, to prevent the emergence of unwanted dogs, which together have enabled us to address and contribute to substantially and continuously for over 16 years national level wider issues concerning stray dogs (macro-level) and ensure dog welfare at the local level (micro-level).

Sri Lanka’s no-kill policy on dogs shaped their primary work to be spaying and neutering, both un-owned (stray or community-cared dogs) and owned dogs (also owned cats). So in KACPAW’s work, sterilisation is what takes the first place as they see this as the only method that permanently ensures arresting of unwanted litters from being born and left to suffer and die.

They sterilise both owned dogs and stray or community dogs at field clinics. In 2015, they sterilised and vaccinated 2,500 dogs. Over the years since 1999, they have spayed or neutered over 20,000 dogs. In addition, they treat mostly stray or community dogs for mange and other illnesses, over 1,000 each year. They also rescue stray or abandoned dogs who have horrific injuries or are neglected and left to die.

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