During an Animal Aid Abroad (AAA) trip to Mannar, Sri Lanka, to visit Bridging Lanka’s donkey management and welfare programs, our eleven member crew took some time out from a packed schedule to visit the Dutch fort on Mannar Island. The fort itself got little attention, as the focus fell on two dogs, both seemingly nearing death. Their level of mange and scabies was so extreme that they could hardly move.
Soon the AAA team started to notice many more street dogs in similarly precarious condition. Out of great concern for these dogs, Janet Thomas, Founder of AAA, saw a huge need for a Dog Rescue Center in Mannar. Janet asked Bridging Lanka to see if there was any available land. As luck would have it, there was a two acre property for sale just 200 meters from the Donkey Clinic & Education Center (DCEC). So began the Hendro Animal Rescue Center (HARC) named in honor of the father of two very generous donors, Sylvia and Annemieke, who made the purchase of the land for the shelter possible.
The site of the new animal shelter has good road access and electricity connection, very recent services introduced to this somewhat isolated area. The two acre piece of land is high, fertile and flood resistant. Like its neighboring property with its many coconut trees, the HARC site will also be planted up with productive vegetation.
A number of meetings were held to work out initial actions to get the site prepared for construction. The Bridging Lanka directors also did an animal shelter crawl in Melbourne, Australia in March to see how Australian agencies care for their rescued animals. Everyone involved began to appreciate the complexities of what was required and what would be possible in a developing area like Mannar District, Sri Lanka. It would be impossible to replicate the air conditioned and comfy ‘apartments’ of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) animal shelter in Melbourne. But perhaps the establishment of a water spray system to cool the animals in hot weather could be a realistic alternative.
Local veterinary reports put the number of street dogs in Mannar at approximately 3,000. Back in 2012, Bridging Lanka, along with the technical support of the Tsunami Animal & People’s Alliance (TAPA) and the cooperation of the Mannar Urban Council, sterilized 498 street dogs and 4 cats. Obviously sterilization needs to become a regular event. With the Hendro Animal Rescue Center up and running, this will become a reality.
Intentions are for the center to treat and look after dogs, cats and rabbits, as well as farmed animals like cows, goats and pigs when possible. The center planners intend it to provide post-operative care, shelter for a minimum of 100 stray dogs, treatment for dogs involved in road traffic accidents, dog adoptions, veterinary treatment for farmed animals, humane animal husbandry training, implementation of a sterilization program, and a mobile veterinary clinic run in collaboration with the local Department of Animal Production & Health.
Featured image: a street dog in Sri Lanka. Image credit 4Neus, CC BY-SA 3.0. All other images in this story via Animal Aid Abroad.