No cyanide but
a little bit of love and sterility
By Ruwanthi Herat Gunaratne and Vidushi Seneviratne
We thought cyanide is about the LTTE.
system demands that the dogs be put down, to stop the breeding process,
by using Cyanide and Strychnine, states the Kandy Association for
Community Protection through Animal Welfare. "These substances
are injected into the dogs and cause an excessively painful death,"
are supposed to be our best friends, but the number of ownerless
dogs we encounter on the roads seems to grow by the minute...
programme will bring stray dogs to a center, sterilise, tag, vaccinate,
de-worm and treat them for any other disorders, in a more humane
way (details below), and then release them (with collars round their
necks) to the locality that they were initially found in. Since
dogs are territorial creatures, new stray dogs will not establish
themselves in these areas.
de Silva, the Head of the Department of Veterinary Clinical Studies,
at the University of Peradeniya, agrees that it is this method that
would prove the most effective in curbing the stray dog population
in the country. "The sterilisation programme that we carry
out is a hysterectomy on the bitches. This can be conducted if they
are older than four months."
and fear of stray dogs lie in the fact that these dogs are the main
carriers of Rabies, which is a viral disease affecting the central
nervous system of humans. The disease could seep into humans and
thereby endanger lives through a simple bite or a tiny scratch made
by a rabid dog. Rabies once contracted is incurable. But it is preventable.
sterilization operation in progress
though, Rabies is not given the attention that it warrants. Whilst
54 people died of Dengue last year, 83 died of Rabies.
be eradicated by a simple injection given to all dogs on a yearly
basis. Yet, due to the growing number of stray dogs on our streets
what would once have been a possible exercise has now assumed impossible
A Five Year
National Health Plan for Effective Eradication of Human Rabies has
been prepared by the Ministry of Health, The Sri Lanka Veterinary
Association and the Kandy Association for Community Protection through
Animal welfare. The objective of this plan is to ensure a Rabies
Free status in Sri Lanka by 2007.
has also formulated three programmes, which once conducted concurrently
will achieve a Rabies free or near Rabies free state. The three
programmes being Stray Animal Birth Control, Responsible Pet Ownership
and the Re-homing of forsaken dogs.
of the first programme is to eliminate Rabies through the more effective
and humane method of disrupting the life cycle of dogs by means
of sterilisation. Dr. S. R. Jayasinghe of the Veterinary Department
of the Kandy Municipal Council agrees with this and has officially
put a stop to the usage of substances such as killer cyanide within
the Kandy Municipality Limits.
One of the
fundamental features of stray animal birth control is that it does
not require the killing of dogs to achieve a Rabies free state.
The Animal Birth Control programme is to be initially conducted
in areas coming within the Kandy Municipal Council and the adjacent
areas, together with the KMC and the Provincial Council with the
guidance and co-operation of the World Society for the Protection
of Animals (WSPA).
also hopes to vaccinate all stray dogs. "The dogs vaccinated
during the course of this year will be identified with the use of
a red collar during the course of this year. By doing so they will
not be caught by the dogcatchers and be impounded in a dog shelter.
This collar will also identify the dogs that have to be re-vaccinated
They also hope
to re-home these dogs. "It is us humans who have domesticated
the animal, and they are now unable to do without us. What most
of us do is buy highly pedigreed dogs. But what we fail to realise
is that the so-called stray dogs or Sri Lankan dogs are actually
better suited to our country. They live longer, healthier, happier
lives," says the Treasurer of KACPAW. "That is why we
believe in re-homing the dogs."
There are signs
that the public is interested. Vasantha Kumara from Matale had dropped
in to have a sterilisation operation done on one of his dogs when
he spotted another stray puppy being brought in for re-homing. The
new puppy went back to Matale with him. The fact that there is no
fear of breeding helps with the distribution of bitches though the
general preference is for males.
Two dogs, after
being sterilised, vaccinated and de-wormed, were handed over to
the Department of Agriculture at the University of Peradeniya. These
community dogs are now part and parcel of the department.
Salez is a Swiss organisation that looks into the well being of
one of the shelters in Kandy. The Gohakande Shelter was in a bad
state when Edith Zellweger came to Sri Lanka on holiday. On seeing
the state of the shelter, she, together with Rohini de Silva, approached
the Municipality and took over the shelter. It has now been made
into a safehouse for stray dogs. The shelter also provides sterilisation
and vaccination programmes for its 18 inmates.
The plans have
already been implemented in the precincts of the Kandy Municipal
Council. The feasibility of the programme is yet to be observed
but from what we witnessed this may be the solution to a problem
that has been plaguing us for years.
Kandy Association for Community
Protection through Animal Welfare (KACPAW) is a non-profit making
NGO which was established in January 1999. KACPAW is involved in
providing free sterilisation and rabies vaccination clinics as an
alternative, more effective and humane method of Rabies control.
KACPAW also organised a conference together with WSPA on 'Humane
Stray Dog Control' which was held on September 7-8, in Kandy. This
was held in order to formulate the five-year plan for the eradication
of Rabies from Sri Lanka.
Rabies is prevalent in 116 countries including Sri Lanka. In the
United Kingdom, Rabies was eradicated 100 years ago. More recently
it was eradicated from Malaysia. This indicates that the basic preventive
methods are sufficient to eradicate rabies and that high cost technology
is certainly not required for this purpose.
There are two main types of Rabies that have been isolated.
The Furious Type and the Paralytic Type. These begin with non-specific
symptoms like fever, loss of appetite, increased secretions, anxiety
and irritability. More specific symptoms like pain and numbness
could be present at the site of the wound.
Patients with Aggressive Rabies exhibit hydrophobia - a fear of
water. They are unable to consume water. Consumption can lead to
spasms. In instances of the paralytic type, paralysis dominates.
Whatever the pattern, the disease eventually progresses to complete
paralysis, coma and then death.
A pair of dogs and their offspring can give rise to
an estimated 67,000 dogs in 6 years. KACPAW also says that for the
past 50 years 100,000 dogs were killed in Sri Lanka on an annual
basis and that more than 150 million Rupees is spent annually on