Animal welfare activists accuse the BMICH management on inhumane treatment of community dogs


During the latter part of the first week of August, as admitted by the BMICH, to the Cinnamon Gardens Police, 23 dogs were removed from the premises of the BMICH, by a dog catcher to whom a sum of Rs. 140,000 was paid by the BMICH. This too was confirmed by the statements made to the Cinnamon Gardens police. These dogs have been dumped in unknown locations or killed, we believe.

On August 18, animal welfare activists Visakha Tillekaratne and Anusha David, went to one such location in Kalubowila, accompanied by the dog catcher [who was ordered by the police to accompany them] in an attempt to locate some of the dogs. Of the 23 taken, just four were found.

Tillekeratne and David then proceeded to the Bellanwila area in the company of the dog catcher who said he had taken a few dogs there as well. However no sooner they reached Bellanwilla, the dog catcher vanished and has not been since found. This despite instructions given him by the Cinnamon Gardens police to assist in tracing these dogs. The whereabouts of the missing 19 dogs and whether they are dead or alive is not known.

Anusha David who made a police entry regarding these dogs says:

“I have made this statement in the hope that actions of this nature will not recur, as well as to secure justice for these dumb animals. A dog is man’s best friend. This is a proven fact. Development is not high rise buildings and paved walkways but is the way in which we treat each other, particularly those who are weaker than us and who have no voice.

As a lover of animals I would be the first to say that any animal should be within the premises of its owner and not roaming the streets. However we live in a culture where owned dogs are not sterilized and instead are dumped by the nearest market or temple when puppies are born and are let out onto the roads to roam and fend for themselves.

Is it right for humans to then punish the animal rather than their owners who have created the problem? This makes no sense at all. It is a proven fact that in countries such as ours the only way in which to curtail the Community Animal population is by continued and relentless sterilization, commonly referred to as CNVR [Catch, Neuter, Vaccinate, Release back to its former territory].

This is the practice throughout the region, in India, Bangladesh etc . WHO statistics support this fact. However it should be noted that the elimination of the Community Animal will give rise to a plague of rats and disease as evidenced in Surrat in India.

Our appeals to vaccinate and sterilize the BMICH dogs during the last two years or so was denied on the grounds of Covid. However, Covid or not, Rs 140,000 was paid to the dog catcher to remove the BMICH dogs as admitted by the BMICH. This cruel and disgraceful deed tarnishes the image and reputation of the BMICH.

Furthermore, such reprehensible acts should not be tolerated in a just and humane society where the ‘No Kill’ policy, brought into effect by then President Rajapakse in 2006, prevails”.

It is a proven fact that the removal of community dogs from a locality is often a futile exercise, as when one set of dogs are taken away from a locality, another set of dogs will move into this vacant territory and take their place, after a short time.

Anusha David also stated:

“On August 18 and 19, I was prevented from feeding the three or four dogs who evaded capture at the BMICH, by the Rakna Lanka security personnel, who were extremely cooperative previously, as ‘the Director mahattaya’ had given them orders that on no account were the dogs to be fed or let out of the premises to eat. So I was then faced with a situation where hungry animals could see the food but were prevented from eating it.

Despite numerous calls and pleas made to the BMICH they were adamant. Instead they want a handful of animal welfare activists to single handedly tackle the community animal situation in Sri Lanka. Some time ago a dog friendly zone was proposed to be set up and managed at the BMICH but this has come to naught. It’s very easy to order us to house these animals who have been living for years within the premises and have not posed a threat to anyone.

We can all vouch for that, and in my case, in my professional capacity, I have organized several events there with no obstruction whatever caused by these poor animals. They are so timid that even when we go to feed them, except for a handful who want to be petted before they eat, the majority will not even approach the food until we move well away.

For anyone to say these dogs are fierce and a threat is laughable. I know, as I have first hand experience of them. What is now taking place at the BMICH is abject cruelty as it is obvious that the strategy is to either starve these dogs or force the handful of animal welfare activists who are already overburdened with animals, and with no funding outside personal income, to take them in.

Does the BMICH management want us to accommodate all Sri Lanka’s community animals, instead of adopting the internationally recognized and recommended 20th / 21st century practice of CNVR in relation to community animals?”

Subsequently as of 20th August [approximately] the BMICH management has agreed to feed the remaining dogs who evaded capture within their premises.

Under Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance of 1907, any person who by any act or omission causes unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal commits an offence, and this is exactly what the BMICH authorities have done by their cruel handling and dumping of these animals.

Furthermore it is also against the law for animals to be dumped in public areas and once again the BMICH has violated the law.

The BMICH is appealed to resolve this matter.