Charity trustee organises vet clinic for hundreds of Sri Lankan street dogs – but she needs your help to treat even more
AN ANIMAL lover is heading on a volunteer trip to Sri Lanka in a bid to improve the lives of street dogs in the poverty-stricken country.
Former Bullivant Media editor Laura Kearns first visited the island in 2018, but was left devastated at the plight of dogs living on the streets.
Since then the 34-year-old has self-funded a volunteer trip and become trustee of a charity called Lucas Helps Dogs to support the some six million street dogs in Sri Lanka.
It funds spay and neuter clinics, rabies vaccinations, emergency treatments and aims to educate locals in animal welfare.
She was driven to help even more after rescuing a street dog who had been attacked with a machete. The dog, Kandy, now lives with her at her Warwickshire home.
Laura said: “Sri Lanka is such a beautiful country but I was left devastated by the number of street dogs, many injured and some even dead.
“Every day dogs are born into a life of misery on the dangerous roads, where drivers aim for them, disease is rife and food and water is scarce.
“While the charity pays for emergency treatment to help injured and disabled dogs, we really want to help the situation overall so are determined to spay and neuter as many street dogs as possible. Rabies is also prevalent over there, with children and dogs dying of the disease in recent months, so we ensure every dog we treat is given a rabies vaccination.”
Laura runs the charity alongside two friends and in January the trio carried out their first spay, neuter and vaccination clinic in a part of the island called Ella.
They funded the treatment of 50 animals and an emergency treatment for one dog who had an exposed bone in his paw.
Since returning home they have spent nearly every weekend fund-raising at local fairs by selling handmade items like leads, collars, bracelets and dog treats.
They have also continued to support dog rescuers in the country by paying for eight emergency treatments, medication, 60 rabies vaccinations, helping rehome Sri Lankan dogs to a new life abroad.
And while they had planned to carry out a clinic for 500 dogs when they visit the country this month, the economic crisis has sent costs soaring and means they will have enough for only half that number.
Laura said: “We completely fund transport, travel and all other costs ourselves and ensure all the money we raise goes to helping the dogs.
“We’ll be volunteering in Sri Lankan shelters and carrying out checks on dogs along the road who otherwise get no medical care. Our main reason for visiting though is to carry out a mass spay and neuter clinic in Ella to try and keep the dog population down following our work last year.
“We have spent nearly every weekend at festivals and fairs up and down the country raising awareness about what we do and the plight of street dogs in Sri Lanka.
“While we have done amazingly well, the vet bills in Sri Lanka have nearly doubled due to petrol and medication costs which has vastly reduced the number of dogs we can treat.
“It’s devastating after working so hard all year that we might not reach our target, and now we are desperately trying to raise as much money as we can. The cost of neutering and vaccinating one street dog is now around £25 but it is the only way to reduce the number of dogs on the street and more being born into a life of misery.”
While in Sri Lanka, Laura and the team will also be taking over running a small shelter which is home to nearly 100 disabled dogs and cats in order to give its team of volunteers a much-needed break.
Laura added: “There’s very few animal lovers in Sri Lanka and the ones who do care for them really do have their work cut out. We are doing our best to help as much as we can, and appreciate any support to continue our work changing the lives of Sri Lankan street dogs.”
Visit www.lucashelpsdogs.com for more information or to donate.