Animal rights activists oppose Sri Lanka reverting to mass culling of stray dogs

Jan 07, Colombo: Animal rights activists in Sri Lanka have expressed opposition to the suggestion to revert to mass culling as an alternative to control the nearly 3 million stray dog population in the island.

Sri Lankan Minister of Health Maithripala Sirisena has said in a news program of private Swarnavahini television that Sri Lanka would lift a moratorium on killing stray dogs, because of rabies concerns.

The Minister has earlier noted that the despite the government’s spending of one billion rupees per year, the sterilization programs have failed to control the growth of the stray dogs.

The predominantly Buddhist country has banned killing stray dogs since 2005.

Between 2,000 and 2,500 people are reported bitten every day by stray dogs, and the treatment of dog bites and rabies had cost the government Rs.500 million annually while an anti-rabies injection cost Rs.30,000, the Minister has pointed out.

Around 50 to 60 people bitten by rabid dogs die of canine rabies annually.

Responding to the Minister’s call, a leading animal rights campaigner in Sri Lanka has called on the authorities to conduct a proper research on the impact of stray dogs before re-initiating a mass culling programme, the BBC reported.

Dr Kala Santha, a veterinary surgeon campaigning against killing of stray dogs has told BBC Sandeshaya that according to her information, it is the domesticated dogs that have bitten most of the people, not the stray dogs.

The animal rights activist has pointed out that there are more stray dogs in India but the Indian authorities are successful in the sterilization program.

The activists blame the public health officials for the failure of the sterilization programs saying corruption and mismanagement were the reasons for lack of success.

A move to set up an open-air sanctuary for stray dogs in a two-acre land in Anuradhapura of North Central Province has been deemed impractical.

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