Scenes from the third phase of the Embark project in Jaffna
Embark, the unique brand-linked community animal welfare program, recently completed the third phase of the Jaffna Animal Protection Project (Yarl Animal Protection Project), with 391 more sterilisations and another 460 vaccinations.
Encouraged by the support of communities in Jaffna, the project provided free sterilisation, vaccination and treatment for owned and roaming dogs, thereby contributing towards controlling the street dog population and creating a rabies free island.
Following two successful phases in July and August 2014, the third phase involved the setting up of field clinics in the Ariyalai, Vannarpannai and Navanthurai areas and spanned eight days. The project targets the sterilisation of a minimum of 70% of owned and roaming dogs within the Jaffna Municipal Council limits and is co-funded by the Jaffna Municipal Council, Brigitte Bardot Foundation, Dogstar Foundation, Embark and the Tsunami Animal-People Alliance (TAPA).
The field team consisted seven handlers/veterinary assistants and six veterinary doctors who performed surgeries under sterile conditions in mobile operating theatres and coordinated closely with Municipal Council staff, local PHIs, veterinarians and members of community organisations.
“Since commencing our initial phase in July 2014, we have experienced a big shift in mindset within the community. Not only are families keen on getting their dogs sterilised, but several individuals even encouraged their neighbours to do the same with their dogs. With the continued support and daily announcements from local government bodies, coupled with growing trust in the safety of the procedure and the success of previous field clinics, the community is increasingly supportive of the work we do,” said TAPA Veterinary Surgeon Dr. Subash Dhananjaya Karunaratne.
Inspired by the Scout’s 6th law – ‘To be a friend to animals’, Muthunthan Tharushihan, an undergraduate at the medical faculty of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura and a resident of Jaffna, volunteered during this phase of the project. “The learning experience that I had during this time is invaluable; the doctors are very committed in what they do and are willing to share their knowledge and experience with volunteers. From a situation where pups used to be abandoned, the community is now increasingly aware of sterilisation as an option to humanely control the street dog population and is spreading the word,” he said.
“On completion of the third phase of the project we have recorded 832 sterilisations and 889 vaccinations and many treatments within the Jaffna Municipal Council area. Since commencing work last year, we have noted increasing support and participation from the local community, assisting in furthering the bond between people and the street dog, for the mutual benefit of both,” stated Embark Founder Otara Gunewardene.