Trupanion by Anusha David
In 2006, during the 2,500th Sambuddhathva Jayanthi, President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared a “No Kill” policy. The official method to reduce the stray dog population is now through sterilisation and vaccination, instead of the capture-and-kill policy that has repeatedly failed over the past 100 years.
No government in the world has succeeded in eliminating stray dogs by killing them or relocating them.
In Australia, 76% of stray dogs were killed, and in one year the numbers were back to what they were.
In Hong Kong, 20,000 dogs were killed by the Government, but the dog population remains the same. In Delhi, one-third of all stray dogs were killed; however, the numbers did not reduce.
Government organisations, private institutions, the general public – in short, everyone – must realise that killing or relocating stray dogs does not reduce the dog population. Dogs are by nature extremely territorial. They urinate to demarcate their territory. Dogs have their own territory and will never cross into another dog’s territory.
When dogs chase a car, it is because they detect the scent of another dog’s urine on the car’s tyres.
When you hear dogs barking in the night, they’re alerting you to intruders in the neighbourhood – intruders who, as far as the dog is concerned, have entered their territory.
Most people think that if you feed a stray dog, it will encourage other dogs into your street. But as we’ve seen, this doesn’t happen. Dogs are territorial and won’t allow others to enter their area.
The solution? Sterilise/neuter, vaccinate, and return dogs to their former territory, under the CNVR method – capture, neuter, vaccinate, release.
Stray dogs also have a tendency to occupy empty areas or spaces that aren’t already occupied by other dogs, so when you remove dogs from a street, all that happens is others enter and occupy that area.
For example, if dogs are removed from Galle Face, other dogs from Colombo 1 or Colombo 2 then occupy the empty space. Stray dogs from Colombo 3 then move into empty spaces in Colombo 2, and so on and so on.
This actually happened in 2014, when the Government removed dogs from Independence
Avenue. Within a few weeks, the number of strays had actually increased in the area.
If this is done consistently without a break, in 10 years we will have a population of almost zero community dogs – which honestly is not a good thing at all.
“Take for example the city of Surath, India, where a new Commissioner was appointed who said he was going to clean the city up in three weeks. His idea of cleaning the city was to destroy the dogs and cats. In a matter of three weeks he had killed every single dog. This was his idea of cleaning the city,” as recounted by Maneka Ghandi.
“Needless to say, within two weeks the entire city was infested with rats. Rats are not scared of humans; they are scared of dogs and remain underground. In the absence of dogs they surfaced and flourished. They grew large and started biting people, resulting in two persons getting the plague.
“Surath had this huge epidemic that was much worse than today’s Covid virus. For a period of two years, tourism came to a halt. It was a frightening time. People all around were terrified of catching the plague. And all this resulted due to the killing of dogs.
“So if dogs are killed in Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka will suffer the same fate as Surath. In a matter of two weeks, you will have a plague of rats, and then I wonder who will come forward to kill the rats.”
Stray dogs in Moscow have adapted their behaviour to traffic and life in Moscow. The dogs ride the metro and understand the rules of traffic lights. The dogs in Moscow are often called Moscow’s metro dogs.
In New York, they are considering reintroducing community dogs to control the rat menace.
This is a decision that the people and governments of Sri Lanka have to take – do we live in a sterile environment, or do we live in harmony with animals and nature?
Either way, CNVR has to be rigorously implemented.