2018 Sep 24
Sadly, Sri Lanka has a terrible reputation of harming the many other species we share our island with. Stories of the so-called harmonious lifestyles we claim to live are thrown to the wind with each violent animal abuse case that has driven many a vacationing tourist to leave our country, utterly appalled. With more and more emphasis on animal rights globally, each sickening occurrence gains more traction on social media, leaving the compassionate minds existing within Lanka itself to wonder – where does this line of abuse end?
The next few lines will undoubtedly sound familiar, having made headlines in local newspapers and social media outlets alike at some point or the other – leopards bludgeoned to death by villagers, elephants chained and abused in to obedience in the name of the tourism industry and our ‘culture’, neglected pedigree dogs belonging to puppy mills being abandoned after reaching the peak of their breeding ability, our neighborhood furry friends being run over, strangled, stoned and subject to many more inhumane methods of culling. These animals fade away from existence, most never even knowing a single moment’s peace or compassion.
Kim Cooling, a social worker from East London, was first introduced to these deplorable circumstances when she came down on holiday in 2001. Years of self-funded rescue attempts later, in 2007, she was able to start the Animal SOS Sri Lanka charity, employing both local and UK staff to her cause. The facility has a free-roaming sanctuary for dogs, a more secure sanctuary for rescued cats and also offers an on-site veterinary clinic (which is operational every day of the year). They do not limit themselves to rescue attempts alone but also carry out adoptions, neutering and vaccination programs, and animal welfare workshops.
They have helped thousands of animals (not just companion animals but wildlife and cattle too), and have simultaneously lost countless to injuries, disease and malnutrition. Rescue work is no feat, it is founded on blood, sweat and tears and a strong dedication to the belief that each life deserves a shot at happiness and a loving home. Even then, it is a gritty and raw process of facing animals in such inhumane conditions. Cooling revealed in her latest post on Facebook that what is already a process that requires much of her mental strength is being made more of an impossible task by surrounding unruly villagers.
Determined to shed some light on the shameful conditions the charity is being subject to, Cooling outlined a long post with videographic proof of the villagers inciting violence, which also happened to include police officers standing idly by. But Cooling has long since learned that she cannot rely on law enforcement for their protection, when a villager threatened the staff, demanding charity funds. Upon handing the evidence against the blackmailer to the police, the charity itself was charged with being a public nuisance. Is this how we aim to repay the brave souls attempting to better Lanka’s animal welfare conditions?
Cooling goes on to describe the mob’s more recent shameless antics. The villagers blocked the road to stop supplies from reaching the facilities and have taken to harassing staff and builders, throwing firecrackers into the premises to name just a few. This stems from the ignorance of the community that make claims that, for example, viruses such as parvo in cats and dogs could infect humans (which needless to say, isn’t so). A vulgar member of the mob even exposed himself to the staff in the presence of a Buddhist shrine. Normally, such an incident would have grabbed headlines in an instance.
Cooling ends her post establishing that the whole of Sri Lanka isn’t an uncompassionate nation, but enough of it is for this to be an appalling problem. If some simply can’t consider the humane aspects of valuing each and every life, then at least consider the adverse effects these occurrences have on our tourism industry. Something must change, namely being realizing the importance of this issue and cracking down on animal cruelty laws.
Visit https://www.animalsos-sl.com/ or their Facebook page to learn more about this team’s hard work or if you even wish to support them through these tumultuous times. Every action and compassionate mind can save a life.