The AWPA is the Animal Welfare & Protection Association, and they've got two animal shelters for kitties and dogs. We visited the one in Dehiwala to get to know the animals - they're a friendly adorable bunch who need kind homes to take them in.
As an animal lover, I feel like this is more of an orphanage than a shelter. There are more than 100 dogs here and almost as many cats.
They're all well fed, and taken care of by just three paid caretakers. The cats and dogs could really use more volunteers to play with. There's a screening process for people who want to work or volunteer here, to make sure they're animal lovers and won't mistreat the animals.
The sad thing is that most people want to adopt pedigree dogs or Persian cats and don't really care for ordinary ones, especially since the former have more 'market value'. We talked to Shiona, one of the 15 committee members of the AWPA, and she said they discourage the sale of cats and dogs - it's important to give homes and family to the animals, not make a fast buck out of them.
The shelter is pretty big and none of the animals are limited to cages. Unfortunately caging animals is a common thing in Sri Lanka, there are a few certified 'pet shops' in Colombo that keep animals in small cages that don't allow them much freedom. So it was nice to see the dogs running around freely here, closed off from the cattery where the cats were allowed to do the same.
Colombo has got a lot of stray cats and dogs. A lot of them are mistreated or tortured, and even run-over by vehicles and left for dead. The AWPA rescues homeless animals, takes care of injured animals, and runs immunization and neutering programs to keep animals healthy and minimize the massive homeless animal problem.
Our visit to the shelter was a moving one - there are plenty of cats, dogs, puppies and kittens here that are just jumping around and waiting to be played with. I made a few friends myself - watch out for Jim Jam and Bindu, some of the friendliest of the dogs who'll come up to you and give you an overenthusiastic hi. Although the shelter is a wonderful refuge for animals, they still need all the help they can get to improve animal health care and the facilities at the shelter itself. How can you help?
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