‘In Charlie’s name’ – activists demand urgent vote on animal bill

Published : 9:11 am  January 11, 2019 | No comments so far |  | 


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Coconut plucker arrested over pet dog’s horrific burning death  


The kennel that was set alight


FB_IMG_15465788969192Pix and text by Richard Walter Perera 

A coconut plucker suspected of setting fire to a pet dog and killing was produced before a magistrate yesterday over the horrific act amid renewed calls for the Animal Welfare Bill to be passed.  

The 38-year-old suspect was released on Rs. 50,000 personal bail. Police said they had in the past received a complaint about the dog’s constant barking.  

The arrested man, a resident of Koppara Handiya in Negombo where the dog’s owners lived, was arrested after neighbours told police he had been seen near the house on the eve of the incident.  
Charlie, the two-year-old labrador, died from terrible burns all over its body after kerosene was thrown into its locked kennel and set alight on December 31.  

The pet dog succumbed to its injuries on January 1 despite being rushed by animal welfare activists for emergency treatment at a veterinary clinic in Colombo.  

Charlie’s owner, Asitha Chammiwardena, said his family had been woken around 2.30am when the dog began barking loudly and crying out in pain.  

“My son and I ran towards the kennel where the dog was,” Mr. Chammiwardena said. We smelled kerosene oil. The kennel was on fire and Charley was struggling for life in the corner of the kennel.”  
The kennel was sturdily built with steel-barred gates at the front, cement block sides and a tiled roof.  

“We didn’t see anybody,” Mr. Chammiwardena continued. “Our dog had burns all over its body. We quickly contacted a few veterinary surgeons and treated it on their instructions and at about 6.30am a team accompanied by a veterinarian from Colombo came and took the dog with them for treatment but our efforts failed as it succumbed to its injuries a few hours later.”  

The owners said the dog, which had been bought for Rs. 35,000, had not caused any harm to anyone and had always been kept inside the garden.  

Chief Inspector U.P.S. Priyantha of the Negombo police said officers had found a lid of a bottle believed to have contained kerosene oil used by the suspect.  

Police believe the suspect jumped over the garden wall or the gate and poured kerosene oil through the door of the kennel and set fire to it as the oil spread over the floor.  

Animal protection organisation Save A Paw With Love offered a reward of Rs. 150,000.00 to anyone who could give information leading to an arrest over the crime.  

Shivanthi de Silva, a member of the organisation, said “in Charlie’s name” the Animal Welfare Bill should be passed immediately by parliament. It was approved by cabinet in 2016 but has still not been presented to parliament. The bill is aimed at tougher penalties for those who mistreat animals and would replace tame laws dating from 1907.  

Public protests against cruelty to animals were held yesterday in Colombo and Negombo.  

A post on the Facebook page of the respected animal welfare organisation in Ahangama, Animal SOS Sri Lanka, graphically describes the tragedy in Negombo:  

“A couple of nights back I was working into the early hours of the morning on charity work and received a frantic message via FB from a guy saying his dog was set on fire. Some maniac/s had gone to the dogs kennel in the early hours, doused the dog with kerosene, lit a match and set the dog on fire. The dog was screaming in agony and the owner was driving around the Negombo area trying to find a vet.  

“Being in London, I contacted Shivanthi who immediately went to the scene. The dog jumped into her car to be taken to a vet for emergency treatment. This innocent, gentle soul lost his battle for life today after suffering immensely since the attack.  

“Why on earth does Sri Lanka not take these animal abuses seriously? … RIP sweetheart, let’s hope justice will prevail one day for your suffering and murder, let’s hope lives like yours matter one day and let's hope you are running free and healthy in a better place.”