Take a step back and review what you had witnessed just within a span of a day. From a full-grown dog howling from within a small-built kennel to an injured stray cat limping on a street, one might come to question the very compassion that Sri Lankans are famed to possess. The pearl of the Indian Ocean continues to shimmer for its undeniably glory, while the overlooked reality becomes harsher by the passing second, until it is truly repugnant to the core.
All it takes is a glance at the Dehiwala Zoological Garden to realize the terrible state that Sri Lanka is in. Small cages void of rooftops imprison its animals while the cement where once a pond was, scorches their dainty paws. These poor animals face countless humans day after day without a break and in return, receive ice cold meat from the freezer.
The situation outside those walls isn’t much different. Entire litters of newborn kittens and puppies continue to be found dumped on the streets, gasping for breath and whimpering for a chance to survive. All the while, horrendous acts of animal abuse that have reached our ears once too many times are becoming increasingly resound.
Sticks, stones, boiling water and fire [amongst other things] perpetually test the strength of animals residing in our country. At their breaking point, they come to depend on one compassionate person amongst a thousand citizens to shelter them in their misery. The justice of these victims solely relies on aggravated comment threads on social media and sadly, that’s as far as it goes.
Perpetrators of animal abuse roam our land, free to commit their blunders again at any given time without consequence. Because the ugly truth is that despite the continuous petitions and protests initiated by compassionate Sri Lankans, the legislation for the Animal Welfare Bill remains an unenacted draft that’s all but passed.
The concept that animals with pedigree are worth more, is yet another cause of the growing population of animals on the streets. It isn’t shocking to witness someone who was previously unwilling to open their home for a stray, impulsively purchase a pedigree animal from a shop.
This one of Sri Lanka’s sad realities.
Here’s a fun fact - pedigree doesn’t determine worth. The nature of pedigree is a phenomenon used excessively by businessmen looking to make easy money off of animals. Because of this, animals with pedigrees always find homes despite whatever expense. Meanwhile, the strays who can’t be categorized under a particular pedigree continue to be homeless, even if they are up for free adoption.
Despite the supposed prestige of owning a pedigree animal, they, too, are often found dumped on the streets when they reach a certain age or develop an illness. Sheltering an animal, pedigree or otherwise, comes with various responsibilities that ought to be taken into account before adoption. If one is not able to tend to these responsibilities, it’s as simple as not adopting at all.
Worth is determined by how much one values their pets, and this differs from person to person. If one truly loves their pet, they would see its beauty and worth despite whatever pedigree it comes from.
And guess what. That pride one feels when they tell someone that their dog is a Rottweiler or that their cat is a Persian? Triple that pride is what those who shelter stray animals feel when they announce that they adopted a pooch or cat who survived on garbage on the street.
Animals are living, breathing souls that feel happiness and pain just as we do. Selling them for some fast bucks is not only inhumane, it is a shallow act. Recognizing that getting animals homes isn’t a business is something Sri Lanka is yet to comprehend. Making purchases off of persons who make a living out of selling animals, only contributes to the deeper issue that can only be resolved by urging the citizens of Sri Lanka to adopt instead of shop for pets.
So, what has truly become of animal welfare in Sri Lanka?
With the inauguration of President Gotabaya Rajapaksha, there blossomed a new hope. Considering the number of changes brought about and introduced to the law since, compassionate citizens of Sri Lanka see a new light. Perhaps, this is where it will all turn around. Hence, the glimmer of hope has aroused a question within their minds.
Will President Gotabaya Rajapaksha pass the Animal Welfare Bill?
While we eagerly wait for it to be addressed, dozens of organization continue to pave the way.
Bands of concerned citizens have grouped together to form animal welfare organizations to take matters into their own hands. Embark, AWPA, Animal SOS, Tails of Freedom and Cat Protection Trust are just a few of the dozens of non-profit organizations whose sole mission is to better the lives of animals. From animal welfare education programs and animals adoptions to sterilizations and treatments, these organizations ensure that a majority of animals that they encounter are safe and sound.
It is given that often a post would pop up on social media bashing a certain organization with awful claims. Failing to understand that these organizations are funded by donations, the revenue from their merchandise and their fundraisers is the root cause of this issue. Of course there are two sides to each story. Hence, it is equally important to understand that the person behind these allegations is in grief and is extremely concerned over the animal who has been refused help.
It is inevitable that certain animal welfare organizations would halt their helping hand, especially if numerous animals are already being sheltered. Glass half full - there is always another organization who would welcome you and your animal with open arms.
One bad encounter can make one overlook a million good deeds done by another. Once an organization that truly enhances the betterment of animal welfare gets a reputation for refusing help under such circumstances, the public’s opinions are enough to shut it down. And just like that, the hundreds and thousands of animals that they have aided will once again be abandoned. This doesn’t have to become our reality.
Of course, you can always make sure that these animals aren’t refused help simply by donating to the accounts mentioned on each animal welfare organization’s respective websites or social media pages.
If you would like to support the street animals of Sri Lanka, the fast approaching new year has provided you with just the opportunity to do so!
Numerous animal welfare organizations and individuals have pitched in to produce a beautiful calendar for the year 2020. The funds collected by the sold calendars will be received by charities and individuals supporting animal welfare programs. Inspired by the Australian Firefighters Calendar [which since launching in 1993 has raised over AUD $3 million for various animal welfare/wildlife charities], this calendar contains photographs of gorgeous Sri Lankan models in handloom sarongs holding beautiful animals that were rescued from the streets.
It is an A3 sized wall-hang calendar containing 13 pages [including a front page], that’s sold at the mere amount of Rs.1000/- with hopes of raising at least Rs. 1 million to fund the betterment of animal welfare in Sri Lanka.
This calendar is available in the following locations:
AWPA : Shiona Weerasekera - 077 345 0031 [Colombo 06]
Justice For Animals: Tashiya Captain - WhatsApp 0777 389009 [Colombo 05]
Adopt a Dog in Sri Lanka: Shobha Wijekoon - 077 2614439 [Kalubowila]
Ceylon Riding Club: 077 741 1585 [Gorakapitiya, Piliyandala]
Bhumi: 077 744 9729 / 076 968 1347 [Colombo 03]
Salon Kess: 10 Rosmead Place, Colombo 07
Body Bar: 3 Jawatte Avenue, Off Jawatte Rd, Colombo 05
Prana Lounge: 60 Horton Place, Colombo 07
Barefoot: 704 Galle Road, Colombo 04
Selyn: 102 Fife Road, Colombo 05
Rediscover your compassion. Save a life.
Let’s make Sri Lanka safe again.