Justice for Charlie

Jan 10 2019. view 122

While Sri Lankans gathered with their near and dear and celebrated the dawn of a new year, unbeknownst to all, a horrific sequence of events was unfolding in Negombo. Charlie, a 2 year old Labrador was doused in kerosene and set alight; unspeakably evil and barbaric, more so considering the poor animal was locked in a kennel, with no means of escape. The pooch ultimately succumbed to its injuries.

Messages wishing everyone a ‘Happy 2019’ were engulfed by graphic images of a Labrador whose skin was burnt off, with an accompanying gut-wrenching account that shocked the country. News emerged that the pooch was murdered because of his excessive barking. As angry citizens bayed for blood, the purported offender of the heinous crime was divulged - a 38 year old resident of Koppara Handiya in Negombo, the same locale as Charlie’s home. The half-hearted celebration was short lived and those eagerly following the story learnt that the Negombo Magistrates Court released the 38 year old labourer on a surety bail of Rs. 5,000. Renewed calls for the Bill to be passed, and fervent protestations ensued once again. 

An undercurrent of eerie discomfort permeated the collective psyche of the masses as they attempted to comprehend the story, to dissect the mind of one capable of committing such a heinous act. Afterall, we have become quite accustomed to tales of humans enduring various forms of torture, but when the same fate befalls animals, ‘we are more likely to feel empathy for a victim if we consider them to be helpless and unable to look after themselves, much like an infant or toddler, and we view dogs in the same way — ultimately defenseless and requiring assistance’.

It is imperative then, that the Animal welfare Bill is ratified with utmost urgency. ‘The new legislation proposed has as its objective the replacement of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance of 1907 and to recognise duty of care for persons in charge of animals to treat animals humanely, to prevent cruelty to animals, to secure the protection and welfare of animals, to establish a National Animal Welfare Authority and Regulations and Codes of Practice and to raise awareness on animal welfare’

Without a doubt, in light of the fact that the story is still sensational news, Charlie will be the celebrated poster pup for animal cruelty. His photographs, those taken in his heyday, his adorable face melting your heart, followed by the fateful photograph that shook Sri Lankans to their core, continues to be shared far and wide. Social media is still flooded with an unprecedented number of impassioned posts calling for the head of the culprit on a spike. But to what end? A quick Google search will furnish evidence that is disheartening - activists and individuals have lobbied time and time again to have the Bill enacted, but to no avail. What will it take before the Bill is finally ratified? What poor soul will next succumb to government inaction? Campaigns have continually plateaued out due to such inertia, and in turn, public confidence has taken a nosedive. To what extent will we tolerate animal abuse and torture before we decide enough is enough?

Karen Perera

I read that the dog was murdered brutally because of his barking. This is ridiculous. My neighbor's dog barks throughout the night too, but I've never once considered harming the dog. The perpetrator should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. I can't even imagine the pain the dog went through, unable to escape. I still have nightmares to this day. It may seem like an insensitive thing to say at a time like this but pets should NOT be in cages. Especially on 31st night when they would be terrified by the fireworks and the crackers which are extremely loud. I feel like Charlie would still be alive today were he not locked in a cage with no means of escape. I also wonder if his incessant barking was due to the frustration of being locked in a cage. Besides, would you put your human child in a cage? Of course not, so the same rule should apply to your pet children as well. If you're going to put your pet in a cage, don't get a pet!

Fathimath Amina 

As a pet owner, it makes me sick to my stomach to know that someone could have the heart to do this to my babies and get away with it. Why don't we imagine what being set on fire would feel like? If we do and we still can go ahead and inflict that kind of pain on another living being, then that kind of person is beyond redemption. The Animal Welfare Bill has to be enacted ASAP. My heart aches for Charlie, I cried thinking about the pain and suffering he had to go through. 

Chatura Ranatunga

So called Buddhist country overflowing with great values and compassion. Everytime I read the newspapers all I see are stories that prove the opposite of what our country claims to be. I am thoroughly ashamed of humankind. We have descended to the lowest pits. I hope karma will take care of the psychopathic sadist who did this. I fear for my 2 young dogs as well as everyone else's pets. No one deserves this.

Michael Caldera

I was appalled and rendered speechless. Definitely not the news I wanted to see on the 1st of January. It was a harsh reality check that we need to take a good look at ourselves and self evaluate. I cannot fathom that someone decided the best way to deal with a barking dog was to set it on fire. No matter what religion we belong to, it's always the same message that is preached - showing kindness towards all living beings.. I also implore you all to not put your pets in cages and kennels. They are your family and should be treated as such. 



Rihaab Mowlana

Foodie • Bona-fide expert on Harry Potter universe • proud Slytherin • Unapologetic know-it-all • Keyboard warrior • Occasionally sarcastic • Incessant retweeter • Self proclaimed funny girl • twitter.com/ReeMowlana



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