Feeding dogs within Vihara Maha Devi Park to be bannedView(s):
By Tharushi Weerasinghe
The Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) will be going ahead with the decision to ban feeding of dogs inside the Vihara Maha Devi Park. Despite suggestions by experts within the CMC, the Park management will begin implementing a complete ban on feeding within any part of the park with verbal warnings being given to those that attempt to do so.
“I have recommended that designated spots be allocated where dogs can be fed in a way that doesn’t disturb the public,” said CMC’s Chief Municipal Veterinary Surgeon Dr M Ijas. Dr Ijas had given his advice on the matter as the indiscriminate feeding of dogs had started to become a public nuisance to visitors to the park. The dogs would also often chase the ducks and geese found in the park’s ponds.
“As a responsible officer, it’s my job to attend to public complaints and concerns of the Park Management,” he said.
The CMC found that many people come in vehicles and often bring leftovers from restaurants nearby to feed the dogs inside the park and in the Town Hall area.
Dr Ijas said having designated spaces to feed the dogs would be a compromise. “Where the designated space will be, and how it will function, will be up to the park management; but the recommendation at the time is this.”
Park Management, however, disagrees. CMC’s Director of Land Management and Environmental Development Kailayar Ramesh said that the plan for space allocation wouldn’t work because stray dogs wouldn’t stay in a designated spaces. “Young children and families can’t enjoy the Park because these dogs are a danger to them so we cannot allow feeding inside the Park to continue any longer,” he insisted.
“If you count right around the park we feed about 35 dogs,” said Anusha David from Rescue Animals Sri Lanka, an animal welfare organisation that has been active in Sri Lanka for 25 years.
She claimed that feeding dogs outside the park made no sense. “We go about 30 yards into the park from the entrance where we feed them within a maximum of 10 minutes – but if you take them out onto the road there are pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists which will make the dogs bark and agitate people. She claims that in her 10 years of feeding the dogs inside the park, she has never seen them chase a person, a duck, or a goose.
“If the CMC is willing to have a dialogue with us we can figure out how to go about this because clearly, the decision-makers in the CMC know nothing about animals,” she noted, claiming that her requests to meet with the authorities including the Mayor of Colombo have been ignored.
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