By Hasini Silva –
The true story behind the abduction and probable killing of missing dogs at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura
As the representatives of animal loving community of University of Sri Jayewardenepura we thought to address a few false claims that were made by the Vice chancellor in the media regarding the abductions and probable murders of the dogs inside the university premises.
1. The Vice Chancellor’s count of dogs is from a five years old project proposal I myself as a student at the time submitted, asking the help of the university authorities to control the dog population, vaccinate and sterilize them for the safety of both the dogs and the students. This proposal was completely ignored and seeing how futile asking for help from the university authorities the students at the time sought outside help from Animal welfare organizations such as Adopt A Dog in Sri Lanka, Embark, Ray of Hope Sri Lanka, Blue Paw Trust to vaccinate and sterilize the dogs living inside. 132 surgeries were conducted by embark in one camp and the ones who could not be vaccinated due to being pregnant or lactating were later vaccinated and sterilized with help of other organizations.
Currently there is only 83 dogs inside the university. This count was taken weeks before this tragic incident took place, in order to conduct a sterilization camp, again solely on the interest of students and outside organizations. After the abductions, now there are closer to fifty dogs left in the premises.
2. The dogs are not a nuisance to the students, academic, non- academic staff, the cleaning or security staff. Apart from a few exceptions most of them love the dogs and treat them as companions. The first few days after this inhumane act, students and staff were seen to be openly weeping for the loss of their beloved companions.
3. According to unofficial records (we are in the process of getting the official records ) there is less than five bites for the whole last year recorded in the Colombo South Teaching Hospital ( where all the students typically go for treatment.)
4. The vice chancellor had stated “parties with vested interests had spread rumors that the animals were being killed”. If so, we kindly request him to show us where the missing dogs are, since the sole purpose of the media campaign that was started by animal lovers worldwide was to find out what happened to them.
5. University authorities claim that this inhumane act was carried out by a private company , which now we have uncovered as Ultrakill, a pest management company, who had no authority to do so in their business scope, being paid by the Vice chancellor through a contract of Rs. 350,000/- to “get rid of the dogs.”
It needs to be noted that even if there had been such dog bites as the VC claims the university authorities have gone completely against the health ministry protocol for rabies eradication by (if they did )dumping the dogs somewhere else and creating a public health hazard, and also not waiting for the mandatory period of observation to see if the dog dies from rabies they have put these allegedly bitten people at risk for rabies as well since the last stages of the rabies vaccination will only be administered based on the observation of the dog who bit.
6. It was also mentioned in the newspaper articles by Acting Registrar of the University Wasantha Perera that “Some organized groups had spread rumours through social media that dogs were being killed at the university. He said those groups had done nothing for the dogs.”
Without a doubt we can prove that “these organizations” being referred to have been observing, taking care of the well-being of these dogs, with the request from students.
The initiatives include;
• Adoption programmes( for the past five years more than 97 puppies from university grounds found their forever homes with the help of these organizations)
• Rescues for the dogs with illnesses and who met with accidents
• Annual vaccination and sterilization programme
• Feeding programmes during vacation and holidays
This is how we managed to bring down the population from 132 to 83 in five years. Humane and responsible management of the dogs is the only solution. It should be noted that none of these activities were funded by the university authorities.
All we as animal lovers are requesting from the authorities is that the safe return of the brutally abducted dogs and ensuring the safety of the remaining ones. All animal welfare organizations are still willing to help if the university authorities can come in to an agreement to do so.
*Hasini Silva – Past Student of University of Sri Jayewardanepura, Animal welfare activist and Senior team member Ray of Hope Sri Lanka