Frequently asked questions (FAQs) 

Why are there so many dogs on the streets in Sri Lanka?

It's a great question, in Sri Lanka like in many other countries in the world there are more dogs than homes. In the UK ( where I am originally from ) and many other countries, those excess dogs end up in rescue centres and council pounds, in some cases after a legal holding period they are euthanised mostly behind closed doors. Here in Sri Lanka, those excess dogs are on the streets so they are visible and of course they breed, not even all dogs on the street are unowned, but a lot of owned dogs roam daily like a cat would and of course they also are sexually active. Then of course like any country, we have irresponsible owners who let their dogs breed and then dump unwanted puppies on the road, and if they survive, they breed. Pretty grim for animal welfare, and the whole circle of suffering keeps repeating itself which is why we focus so much of our work on spay-neuter and prevention

Why don't you just sterilise them? 

Great minds think alike! We really do believe it pays to stay here at Dogstar and our flagship program is mobile spay-neuter program. We have a  team of amazing vets and veterinary assistants who sterilise around 1000 animals per month ( over 45k to date ). We sterilise both unowned and owned male and female dogs and even microchip every one so we can track their progress and carry out follow-ups. As well the spay-neuter program we support dogs with feeding and veterinary treatments for mange etc.

P.s we also spay and neuter cats as well

 

Is every dog on the street a stray ? 

No, they are not

We understand it's really confronting seeing dogs on the street if like me you grew up in South London ! some of the dogs are actually owned but just free roam ! some are unowned and are super friendly and could adapt to living in a house and most of our team have ex-street dogs living with us. Some are more like cats and come and go as they please ( I have had a few street dogs like that live with me part-time ) and some are more like Foxes in that you can feed them and they get used to you but don't want to be touched or restrained. 

Can't you just rehome them all locally? 

Unlike the UK (where I am from) we don't have a lot of adoption options for adult dogs as we literally have so many excess dogs. Some sources say there are 3 million roaming dogs ( I am not 100 % sure that's correct ) but at the very least its hundreds of thousands so the true figure is somewhere in the middle. So, every good home and indeed less than good home already has dogs if they want them and a very small number of new owners become available countywide each year.

There are some amazing local groups that specialise in trying to rehome dogs and they tend to work with puppies as they are more adoptable and adaptable to a change in lifestyle, another group that deals with unwanted pedigrees can often struggle to place adult dogs in homes, there just are so many more dogs than homes.

It's not even as simple as home good no home bad, as for every great home out there we are faced with bad homes where dogs are locked up full time in kennels or life there entire life on a chain, issues which we are tackling separately via our community education.

Just to make it even more confusing but every dog on the streets is unowned. A large % have a home/owner but free roam for all or part of the time

Working with these restrictions we look at individual factors for each dog and say "what can we do to improve his /her welfare" which may be a combination of feeding, sterilising, vaccinating, giving regular wormer and skin treatment if needed as direct action we can take and our wider community education programs have an indirect impact long term

Why don't you just build rescue centres ? 

There is an estimated 1-3 million roaming dogs across the island and many of those are actually owned just to confuse matters further

We don't have a lot of adoption options for adult dogs as we literally have so many excess  dogs every good home and indeed less than good home already has dogs if they want them and a very small  % of new owners become available countywide each year

So, a typical rehoming centre set up would not work here as rehoming centres need adoptors. Potential new owners here generally only want to adopt puppies and many groups with puppies or adult pedigree dogs struggle to rehome them because there are not enough adopters.

To put it into perspective  Dogs Trust the largest UK Canine charity cares for between 1200-1400 dogs at any one time and Battersea around 400. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of dogs, possibly millions and unlike the UK we don’t have lots of people wanting to adopt adult dogs

Even if you could take a set number off the streets the ones left on the streets would quickly breed to refill the spaces left and you have twice as many dogs as when you started and people will still dump unwanted dogs on the streets and at the rehoming centre. Unless you change the behaviour of people and the breeding abilities of dogs, you will always end up with the numbers of dogs you started, maybe more! 

We run a full-time spay-neuter program to address these issues at the root cause and reduce the number of unwanted dogs whilst supporting those already on the streets. We also have a community team working on the human behaviour change that is needed to run alongside that.

Can I adopt from overseas ? 

Relocating dogs from Sri Lanka is a very different matter to relocating from Europe. We are a Rabies endemic country which means any dog requires a rabies titre test to enter the UK from Sri Lanka, and the costs for that, plus flights, crates, permits etc even pre Covid would be about 1.5 - 2k for an average sized adult dog.

More importantly than cost ( and the cost is always important in charities ! ) is the individual dog's welfare, not every street dog would be happy or able to adapt to a home environment. Whilst many of our team have adopted ex-street dogs, not every street dog would like fences and walls and many do not even like being touched. For a dog like that the stress of taking them from a free-roaming lifestyle and them sending them to another country to people they have never met would be horrific for them.

The final reason we do not home abroad is even if we had a dog that was 100 % happy moving countries and living in a house and a team here to assess and prepare them for that, we had a dog that didn’t mind flying and being in a crate for 12 + hours, if we or the new owner had the 2k ( we don’t ) what we don't have is any infrastructure in the UK to meet the potential adopters, home check them, match them to the dog etc and provide follow up care for the dog. What if the dog had behaviour needs or the adoption failed? we would have to rely on colleagues in the UK rescues who are already overloaded with their own work and we know that dogs are still euthanised in the UK due to lack of rescue space.

Groups that rehome internationally will have professional rehoming teams in both countries to assess dogs, home-checkers, adoption teams to individually match the right home to the right dog, dog trainers and behavioural experts to provide free ongoing support for the dogs lifetime, vets that are experienced in tropical diseases and back up foster carers etc for emergencies.

We don't have any of those, so for us to rehome overseas would be highly irresponsible and poor welfare for the dogs and those offering them homes. We do what we can well, we work with the dogs in situ supporting them hands-on using our own team. We work tirelessly on spay-neuter programs to prevent unwanted litters and to try and improve the individual welfare of the dogs that are on the streets. 

If you are interested in adopting from the UK  we can put you in touch with groups that do arrange overseas adoptions 

 

I am visiting on holiday and found an injured dog can you help?

Depending on where you and the dog are we can try to help, we do not cover the entire Island and our team are generally working around Negombo 

If the situation is urgent please use Google to find your closest vet, our inboxes are not staffed 24/7, your hotel, guesthouse or homestay may also be able to assist 

Please give as much detail as you can and your contact details, taking photos and video and a providing a GPS tag or what 3 words location is also very helpful. 

I live in Sri Lanka and want to rehome my dog 

 We understand you want to do the right thing for your dog by finding it a safe and kind new home. It’s clear that your dog’s physical and mental wellbeing is a priority to you

Firstly, let us explain who we are, Dogstar is an NGO. Our main focus is tackling the overpopulation of dogs (and cats) in Sri Lanka to stop suffering. As a responsible owner, you are no doubt aware there are hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats that live on the streets and many more that live their entire lives locked up in kennels or spend their entire on chains suffering huge mental trauma.

Tragically there are way too many dogs countrywide and not enough kind responsible homes , every group that has a shelter , foster homes or kennels is full and the brutal truth is they all struggle to find new homes even for young cute puppies or pedigree dogs and many dogs live their entire life in overcrowded shelters whilst overworked volunteers try to provide them care.

This sorry story is why as an NGO we work full time on offering free surgical sterilisations for owned and unowned dogs and cats, in 2020 alone we planned to sterilise 11000 dogs and 1000 cats ( reduced due to COVID curfews )  

If you cannot keep your dog with you then we have found the best person to find a new home for your beloved pet is you , sadly we don’t have a list of people who want to adopt someone else’s pet and you know your dog better than anyone else, his needs , what he likes to eat , where he likes to sleep , what games he likes to play so you will know the sort of person your dog would want live with if he cannot live with you

We would advise you to start with people your dog knows, friends and family who have visited your house, people your dog is comfortable with and will help him adjust to you not being in his life anymore.

We would suggest that you always visit a prospective new family both with and without your dog so you can judge if it’s a suitable place for your dog to live and have a trial sleep over so all parties can be sure it’s a permanent new home.

Ensuring your dog’s full vaccinations are up to date, your dog has had a full medical and is sterilised may also increase your chances of finding a suitable new home

It’s really important that new owners are prepared for the lifelong commitment of taking on a pet and they will not be chained or locked in a kennel , that the new owner is fully prepared for veterinary bills and food costs and the animal will be fully vaccinated and sterilised and the new owners are not planning to relocate overseas unless they will be able to take their pets with them . If the new owners are in the Negombo, Katana or Ja-Ela areas we are happy to provide free surgical sterilisation with a Rabies vaccination.

I am emigrating and I want to rehome my dog 

Hello, thank you for contacting Dogstar, we understand you want to do the right thing for your dog by finding it a safe and kind new home before you leave the country. It’s clear that your dog’s physical and mental wellbeing are a priority to you

Firstly, let us explain who we are, Dogstar is an NGO. Our main focus is tackling the overpopulation of dogs (and cats) in Sri Lanka to stop suffering. As a responsible owner you are no doubt aware there are hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats that live on the streets and many more that live their entire lives locked up in kennels or spend their entire on chains suffering huge mental trauma.

Tragically there are way too many dogs countrywide and not enough kind responsible homes , every group that has a shelter , foster homes or kennels is full and the brutal truth is they all struggle to find new homes even for young cute puppies or pedigree dogs and many dogs live their entire life in overcrowded shelters whilst overworked volunteers try to provide them care.

This sorry story is why we as an NGO work full time on offering free surgical sterilisations for owned and unowned dogs and cats, in 2020 we plan to sterilise 11000 dogs and 1000 cats

Are you aware that in most cases it’s possible to take your pet with you when you move overseas ? just like you your pet can get a passport, travel vaccinations and travel to most countries and there are specialist companies who can assist you in every step of the way.

Pet Express https://www.petexpress.lk

Bon Pawyage https://www.thedogladyshouse.com/pet-relocation/

Pet Travels Lanka http://www.pettravelslanka-srilanka.com/home.html

If you cannot take your dog with you then we have found the best person to find a new home for your beloved pet is you , sadly we don’t have a list of people who want to adopt someone else’s pet and you know your dog better than anyone else, his needs , what he likes to eat , where he likes to sleep , what games he likes to play so you will know the sort of person your dog would want live with if he cannot live with you

We would advise you to start with people your dog knows, friends and family who have visited your house, people your dog is comfortable with and will help him adjust to you not being in his life anymore.

We would suggest that you always visit a prospective new family both with and without your dog so you can judge if it’s a suitable place for your dog to live and have a trial sleep over so all parties can be sure it’s a permanent new home.

Ensuring your dog’s full vaccinations are up to date, your dog has had a full medical and is sterilised may also increase your chances of finding a suitable new home

It’s really important that new owners are prepared for the lifelong commitment of taking on a dog and they will not be chained or locked in a kennel , that the new owner is fully prepared for veterinary bills and food costs and the dog will be fully vaccinated and sterilised and the new owners are not planning to relocate overseas unless they will be able to take all their pets with them . If the new owners are in the Negombo, Katana or Ja-Ela areas we are happy to provide free surgical sterilisation with a Rabies vaccination.

 

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