The existence of stray dogs in the country was portrayed as a major issue during the past few years. Although most dogs in the suburbs in Colombo have been vaccinated and sterilised there is more that needs to be done in terms of animal welfare. The proposed amendment to the Dog Registration Ordinance to impose a fine of no less than Rs. 25,000 and imprisonment for those who dump dogs in public places or allow domestic dogs to go astray by the Minister himself has raised concerns among various groups.
Life Online spoke to a few concerned parties as well as several dog lovers to find out their thoughts regarding this decision.
I took this decision for the sake of the country: Faiszer Mustapha
Speaking about the government-run sterilisation programmes Minister Mustapha added that within the next two weeks these sterilisation programmes would commence from Colombo 1-15.
Fines and punishment won’t change human behaviour: Ranjith Withanage
President of the National Movement for Consumer Rights Protection, Ranjith Withanage in an earlier instance said that the proposed amendment to impose fines and punish people who dump dogs would eventually result in the mass killing of dogs. Speaking to the Daily Mirror Life, Ranjith further said that because of these stray dogs the safety of the commuters cannot be guaranteed. “We do not know if all these dogs have been vaccinated. Evening tuition classes were put on hold at one time because of this stray dog issue. Just because people are fined and punished their behaviour cannot be changed. This is not a new issue that we have faced but it has prevailed for quite a long time. Nobody understands the human rights aspect of this decision. Why impose a fine as overwhelming as Rs. 25,000? They could have just introduced a fine with a lesser amount and this would make people even more stressed and I totally deny it in that sense.”
The man-dog relationship should never be disrupted: Sagarika Rajakarunanayake
President of the Sathva Mithra Group, Sagarika Rajakarunanayake said that fining people for dumping dogs is not a wise move. “According to my knowledge the minister said once he appoints a committee he will meet all the organisations but he didn’t discuss any matters. I think I have the longest experience in looking after the welfare of the dogs in the country and I wasn’t called in for any committee or meeting. In fact it was the Sathva Mithra Group that brought forward the no-kill policy for dogs back then. I have always opposed the compulsory registration of all dogs in our country because most of the dogs are community dogs who are well-cared for and are brought for vaccination and sterilization programmes. It is wrong to say that people in the communities or these shanties are irresponsible because I think they are keener in getting their dogs sterilized and vaccinated than dog owners of the elite society. The latter doesn’t have registration books and they contribute towards the increasing dog population in the country. If people are asked to register dogs at overwhelming costs and are threatened to be fined the natural man-dog relationship will be disrupted. It in fact would disrupt the entire process of vaccination and sterilization because who else would take them to such a programme other than a human being. 75% of the immunization and sterilization and the eradication of rabies take place because of this man-dog relationship.”
Speaking further Sagarika also said that low income people live together in what is commonly called as ‘waththa’ and these places do not have proper walls or gates. “It is impossible to keep them indoors and low income people will be vulnerable to be fines as well as punishment. But in that case they will drop their concerns towards the well-being of the animal because they wouldn’t want to get caught to this exorbitant fine and jail term. It is not wise to punish people who abandon dogs and if we were in the committee we would have discussed. We need to consider the practical aspect of identifying those who dump these dogs. Nobody would admit. It is wrong and unjust to call ordinary people as irresponsible and in most instances it is these dogs in the upper classes that do not have books and are not vaccinated.”
It is quite a good decision that should be implemented: Iromi Salgado
In her comments to Life Online, dog lover and committee member of the Animal Welfare and Protection Association (AWPA), Iromi Salgado said that it is quite a good decision but the practical aspect should be given some thought. “I know of instances when people dump dogs during the wee hours of the morning. They just come and dump the dogs in a place they believe is dog-friendly. I believe that these people should be taught a lesson either by capturing footage of this dumping process or by educating the people by publishing their act on the media. Fining is an excellent way of getting hold of the culprits. In addition to that the government should conduct free sterilisation programmes because Colombo doesn’t have a government-run animal welfare clinic. We did one programme and the entire programme was done by our own funds. This is a good chance for people to make others aware of the dumping situation and I hope this decision would deter these people from continuing their inhumane actions.”(Life Online)