The NGO Sathva Mithra (friends of animals) yesterday condemned what it termed “the cockeyed view of the Vice Chancellor of the Jayawardenepura University( http://www.sjp.ac.lk/ ) ” with regard to the fate of dogs thrown out of the campus premises.
Headed by Sagarica Rajakarunanayake it said in a press release:
We were surprised by the cock-eyed view of the Vice Chancellor of the Jayawardenepura University with regard to the dogs found in the premises of the University and the students who have devoted themselves to the welfare of these dogs.
We say cock-eyed view because, as we understand, about a fortnight ago, without any prior warning to the students, the Acting VC on the advice of the VC decided to send out all the dogs from the university premises. They saw only their side of this issue, which was the need to get rid of the animals immediately, caring nothing about the tragic fate that will befall the animals by such hasty unplanned removal and the anguish it would cause the concerned students.
The university stands on a large property which does not have a wall surrounding it. As a result, dogs of the neighbouring areas enter and move about in it freely, some even living there. However, thanks to caring students these dogs have not been allowed to run wild, be disease ridden, and multiply their numbers freely. Succeeding batches of students have taken on themselves the task of caring for these dogs, not only providing them with food but also vaccinating them regularly against rabies, and sterilizing/neutering them, thereby preventing reproduction. They have been getting the support of their parents and even some of the teaching staff for this compassionate task. In fact, a recently retired Vice Chancellor too, had while in office, contributed food for these animals on a few occasions which was a great inspiration to the students. So much love the students had for these for these humble, friendly animals that each one of them was given names to which they promptly respond. With so much loving care and attention, these dogs have always been human-friendly and moved about the university peacefully without harming anyone.
No sooner the vacation started and most of the students were away, the Acting VC started a cleaning process under which one of the first things he did was to call in a pest control company and ask them to seize and remove the dogs in the university premises. We are informed that around thirty dogs were tranquilized, loaded into a vehicle and taken away out of the university premises. No sooner the students learned of this removal of the dogs, they informed the police and asked the pest control people to return them. But the pest control people refused to divulge what they did with the dogs even to the Police, and failed to turn up at a meeting of both parties summoned by the Police.
As the reason for sending away the dogs, the VC has said there were several incidents recently where dogs in the university had bitten students. Strangely, none of the students attending daily to the dogs were informed or questioned about this, and on making inquiries they were unable to find anyone who knew of such incidents. Instead of inquiring into such alleged incidents, the Acting VC had summoned a pest control company and surreptitiously sent away several dogs. It is surely a non-civic minded act on the part of the Heads of this respected seat of learning to send away dogs that they claim had bitten people in the university premises, to some other place where they cannot be observed and may even bite other people. Equally unworthy is the act of handing over innocent dogs, lovingly cared for by students, to cruel unethical pest control people for disposal in some other place, or even their destruction.
It is a pity the VC lacked the humility to discuss with his students this issue of the dogs. He would have then found out that they not only bestowed kindness on these animals, they also took pains to vaccinate, sterilize and manage them as dogs that are safe to be in the university premises. The VC would have realized the value of these dogs, that being immunized they are a barrier against the spread of rabies amongst dogs and people, within the University. The absence of these immunized dogs will encourage other unvaccinated dogs that will pose a threat to the students and others in the University.
It must be said that it is not sufficient that our universities and institutes of learning should be headed by mere academics, whose intellect is not tempered by humility, wisdom, compassion and respect for life. These students of the JPura University, by their work of compassion for helpless animals, have taken a path different to those followed by many undergraduates in this and other universities, which in most instances is one of violence against the universities, government, fellow students, and the rest of society. Yet the VC has failed to recognize the value of such a compassionate outlook as shown by these students.
This incident shows the necessity for proper humanitarian values to be encouraged and strengthened in our seats of higher education.