“All beings tremble before violence. All fear death. All love life.” -Buddha
While traveling in Sri Lanka we were struck with the warmth and compassion of the Sri lankan people, they are strong believers in their faiths, most are Buddhist. They adorn their country with one beautiful temple after another, most follow a strict vegetarian lifestyle following the belief that all animals are created equal just like Buddha did. Only the sad truth is for most their love of animals stops at the temple. Once they leave the temple, they live among homeless, suffering animals, many dying right before their eyes.
Many times while walking the streets of Sri Lanka, we held back the tears as we watched small homeless puppies, so young and thin, trying to steal food from trash as people kick them and throw things at them. Down the street we have numerous dogs sleeping, most have no hair, the fleas have bitten them so badly that they have lost all the hair on their bodies leaving bare skin totally exposed to the burning sun, many hardly look like dogs anymore. Many are blind or bleeding from bites or other wounds on their bodies. Very few are nurtured, most females tits hang down as if they have had many litters of puppies. This is not a few dogs but what seems like hundreds of dogs, most look scared almost sad as if they are not sure what the reason is for them to live such a punishment.
Unfortunately, its not limited to just dogs, but cats and kittens wonder around the streets afraid to ask for food, for fear of being chased away. At several points we encountered homeless goats running around in packs around the streets looking for spare trash. Of course you cannot forget the herds of cows walking in large groups to protect each other as they search for food. The hardest to watch is the horses, I remember how one morning I got up early to go for a run by the temple close by. As I came up the large lawn surrounding the temple I saw a young white horse standing alone but as I got closer I realized she was not alone but had a new born baby on the ground next to her. His fir still appeared wet as if he had not been born long, she put her head down as if to nuzzle her new son but just as she did a man began to yell at her trying to chase she and her baby off the grounds. Speechless, I stood and watched wondering where the humanity had gone wrong right here in front of a temple celebrating Buddhas compassion.
I tried several times to talk to the locals about the animal situation, everyone said it was not their issue, they did not personally kill the animals themselves so they are fine with the situation. Many people owned dogs and cats, most were not nurtured or spayed and the people admitted they had sired many litters. When I asked if they felt responsible for many homeless animals around, they all said no, no one felt the street animals were their responsibility, even if they were a product of an animal they admitted was theirs. I took it a step father asking if any of them would consider fixing their animals if I paid for it, all said no. No one thought it was right to spay or neuter their animals. I left feeling very frustrated, how they could be part of such a loving accepting religion yet not feel any love for the animals.
Once I bent down to pet a dog, a man ran up to me and began to wash my hands as if I was a small child, as he washed me he scolded me telling me animals were dirty and I would myself be dirty forever if I pet the animals. Then later I saw a little girl wave and smile at a small kitten, her mother started to yell at her covered her eyes and pulled her away as if to shield her from the evils that small kitten had. I know the animals are known to bite and have rabies, but I could sense how despairingly this country needed education on animals, when to be afraid and how to approach an animal safely. How else will they learn that when you hit an animal or throw objects at them?
There is a good chance that they will bite out of fear. Common sense!!! After I returned home I began to research the issue, like I suspected this is a global problem. So many countries are struggling with their street animals, after a while it felt like a hopeless situation. Yet among the bleak stories I began to find groups of people who are working on the situation, working on spaying, neutering and educating at the school level in order to treat the sickest of animals. They have a long way to go, in Sri Lanka alone their is an estimated 3 million street dogs. There is also a huge need for financial support for these organizations that are working on this problem. I hope people would rethink what Buddha’s love for all the creatures really meant!!!
Comments are much appreciated since we are working towards creating a non profit organization to help rescue and treat not only the animals in Sri Lanka but all over the Globe.