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Walking with the Dogs of Sri Lanka

‘Live and let live’, a phrase taught to us all as children, either at school, religious gatherings or by parents and guardians. A simple phrase that harps on the essence of life and the significance of appreciating another’s, whether it be human or animal. We are all born into this world the same way, naked and famished, irrespective of race, religion, colour or caste. With nothing but the aptitudinal thirst for knowledge as we experience this world, we live in.

God, Allah or any other supreme being above us has been benevolent enough to let us live in this paradise alongside other wonderful creatures. If only we learn to live and let live, this world would be peaceful and more beautiful than ever.

The bitter truth

Colombo was in utter dismay as a video of an innocent dog being brutally killed today (05.05.2020) with a rifle was being circulated on social media. The animal had not harmed the shooter in anyway, in-fact it was roaming around the road while this beast took aim from his balcony.

The shooter an experienced marksman and a retired officer of the Police residing in a ‘mansion’ in the Negombo area apparently loathes animals and to make matters worse, he’s reported to be a ‘thuggish’ man who dictates terms to the locality. Despite many warnings being issued by the Police to curb his aggressive nature this brute finally outdid himself. Why no one knows. We only know that a poor creature paid the price with its life for this man’s actions.

Shivanthi Sansoni, the Co-Founder of ‘Save A Paw with Love’, one of many advocates for animal rights in Sri Lankan fights diligently as cruelty to animals rise dramatically in the country. She and the staff of ‘Save A Paw with Love’ rushed to Negombo to seek justice for Max fondly known as Loku Putha. It is a rare sight to see a woman in a gender discriminated country walk into a Police station to lodge a complaint against the shooter. Fortified with legal information, CCTV footage and the support of the owners of the pet she urged the Negombo Police to carry out an investigation. Subsequently, the shooter was arrested upon presentation of adequate evidential material and remained in the custody of the Negombo Police until being released upon bail on the evening of the incident. According to Shivanthi the hearing will be on the 18th of May, at the Negombo Courts.

Later it was revealed that the shooter, a retired police SP fired an unlicensed firearm, which killed Loku Putha.

Beto Fernando, a Human Activist and the owner of Loku Putha along with Shivanthi, hope to pursue the case till justice prevails.

Under the following legal acts:

Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Ordinance No.13 of 1907 and as amended subsequently killing of an animal in an unnecessary or cruel manner is punishable by the fine of Rupees 100 or imprisonment for 06 months or with both.

Section 22 of the Firearms Ordinance No. 33 of 1916 as amended subsequently no person is permitted to use or possess a gun without the requisite license. Any person contravening the provision of this section on being found guilty is punishable;

  1. a) for the first offence with a fine up to 10,000 Rupees or with rigorous imprisonment for up to 05 years;
  2. b) for the second or subsequent offence rigorous imprisonment of a minimum 10 years and not exceeding 20 years. If it is an automatic gun or a repeater shotgun the offender shall be punished with imprisonment for life.

Venerable Omalpe Sobitha Thero has made a statement condemning the incident.

The family of the dog were in tears as they told Hiru News of the incident “Loku Putha, as it was fondly addressed was with us for 10 years, I only want to inquire as to what kind of heart this man had to shoot an innocent animal like Loku Putha’ said the owner.

Loku Putha’s remains currently lie at a shelter of ‘Save A Paw with Love’, awaiting a post mortem.

“I don’t comprehend how these sorts of incidents take place, especially given the fact that Sri Lanka is a country that practices Buddhism, a religion with its core principles based on peace.” Says Shivanthi. She also emphases that this is the 27th case since the brutal killing of Charlie (another dog suffered at the hands of cruelty) in 2018. “Had the Animal Welfare Bill been approved then neither of us would have to suffer like this. I humbly request the President and the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka to kindly implement this act as soon as possible to prevent further atrocities taking place. As Sri Lankans we should be ashamed of ourselves to witness and hear of such brutal killings occurring on a sacred day such as Vesak.” She told Hiru News.

Shivanthi, whose motive is to unite the country as one in the battle against Animal Cruelty, fights tirelessly both on-site and on social media till she accomplishes her mission. Her facebook page is saturated with content regarding the incident and along with many other incidents. Sri Lanka commends and stands by her efforts as her social media page is filled with words of encouragement and action.

She urges all animal lovers to take a stand and fight as one for Charlie, Loku Putha and all other animals who fell victim to animal cruelty.

Shivanthi is seen standing firmly as a soldier in ‘the face of war’ while, many of us simply chose to avert, her undying tenacity simple proves that she truly is the ‘Wonder Woman’ of our time.

With you till the end Loku Putha!

Article: Levanjith Suriyaaratchy

Legal facts: Sankha Karunaratne, Attorney at Law, Counsel – Gregory’s Partners

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