Friday, May 30, 2014



When Nick and I retired from our careers in zoos and animal welfare in the UK, we decided to emigrate abroad to be closer to the wild animals which had so motivated us during our many years of captive animal management.  We decided that Sri Lanka offered some great opportunities for wildlife watching, particularly to fulfil Nick`s passion for all animals but particularly elephants, and where I could also pursue my love of wildlife photography.  
 When we arrived in Sri Lanka four years ago, we rented a house in Puttalam while we built our own home on a piece of land that we bought.   Before even coming to Sri Lanka I agreed to have only 2 dogs. 
 Immediately upon arrival, we realised that the dog situation in Sri Lanka is heart-breaking, so many stray and unwanted dogs.  I started to feed the strays around the rented house and treated their mange, lice and fleas and where possible had the bitches spayed (which is cheap to have done here).   A drop in the ocean, but it made me feel better and gave comfort to a few dogs.   Nick became particularly fond of one of these stray dogs, and named him `Pointer`  because he said that he looked like an English pointer - which I might add was/is total rubbish! We discovered that Pointer had been abandoned by his family who had gone to Australia a few months beforehand and he was now fending for himself on the streets.    When it came time to leave our rented house in Puttalam and move into our own home out in `the sticks` we both decided that we would come back as often as possible to continue feeding the dogs, which included Pointer.    He had other ideas though.  Read-on ….

Shortly after moving to our own home I found Sally on the edge of our property early one morning, so young she could barely walk and she was so weak, she certainly had not got there on her own.  By this stage I was becoming aware of how puppies are dealt with in Sri Lanka.   As a Buddhist country they will not put unwanted dogs to sleep and the solution for many is to leave them by the side or in the middle of main roads or in the forest.    The fate for most is unthinkable.    So, `Sally` came into our lives, a little bundle of black fur, starving and very scared. 
A few months later a little collie-looking pup turned up at the house, she seemed well fed but pathetically timid, to the point that when you raised a hand to pet her she would urinate.  She continued to turn up and her visits lasted longer and longer.  I might add I did not encourage her!   Nick and I drove out one day looking for elephants that had been reported in the area.  

About 4 km up from our house on a rough mud road there is a small village and an eco-hotel and there was the little collie, tied up to a tree in total squalor.   We stopped and enquired about her and during our conversation discovered that she was Sally's litter sister. They kept her tied up as every opportunity she got they said she would run away.   I have no proof of this but I think every time she went home she was most probably beaten before being tied up again.  I am sure you will have guessed what is coming……  Meet `Sadie` dog

Nick was the first to break the 2 dog rule.   On one of his daily visits to Puttalam to collect our provisions and leave food for the dogs we had committed-to during our stay in the rented house, he stopped at the petrol station where he was accosted by a very sad and broken `Pointer`.  He was so thin and had festering wounds, probably from dog fights.   As only Pointer could, he proceeded, at the top of his very loud voice, to tell all who would listen that we had abandoned him and left him to die.   Everyone stopped to see what was going on as Pointer continued his screaming and trying to jump into Nick's arms.  I would have loved to have had a video, the way Nick described Pointer`s behaviour was such a Disney moment.  The passenger door was opened and Pointer came home.  It took many months and many visits to the vet to nurse him back to full health.  I sometimes find myself looking into the eyes of this truly wonderful dog and remembering how we had almost left him die.

I rescued Molly from the middle of a very busy road where she had been dumped around three years ago now.  Sadly this is the fate of a lot of unwanted dogs In Sri Lanka.  It seems then as though it is someone else`s decision should they live or die.  She was completely terrified and was sitting huddled to her sibling who was already dead.   Molly was badly traumatised by her experience and it has only been with a lot of patience and care that she has blossomed into the lovable character she is today.  Molly is a sweetheart and I could and would never drive away and leave her behind to return to that same traumatising experience again.   


Abby was very young, perhaps just three weeks old, when I found her last October (2013).  She had been dumped on our road close to the house, just near to our gate, possibly by someone hoping that we might help?   She was emaciated, very weak from hunger and was also severely dehydrated.  She could barely stand but she was so `hopeful` that I could not just leave her to die on our own doorstep.  I think the only reason Nick did not put up too much of a fuss at yet another dog joining us was because we thought her chances of survival were so slim and we just wanted her to be as comfortable as possible for her final days.  Against all the odds, Abby pulled through and she is a lovely personality.  She has a joyful and friendly disposition and loves all of the other dogs, but does also have a mind of her own at times! 

Appeal for help
The dogs and I now find ourselves in a dreadful situation.  On the 29 March 2014, at 8.30 in the morning, Nick suffered a heart attack while driving back from Puttalam.   He was already dead when I arrived at the hospital.  
The situation in Sri Lanka means that I am now not safe to continue living here owing to the isolation of the location we chose to live in.  Our home is surrounded by jungle and is a long way from `help` should that be required.  There are no other ex-pats for miles and miles around, and by a difficult road journey we are still 3½ hours away from Colombo.      
I have exhaustively tried through various contacts to see if I could find good homes for my dogs in Sri Lanka, but to be blunt, there are thousands and thousands of stray and unwanted dogs here, and none of the `rescues` have any space for them.  Finding homes is proving impossible and I have to be realistic and accept that this is not going to happen.   However ghastly the option seemed, I even considered that they would be better humanely destroyed than left to wither and die a slow and anguished death, but have now found that the dogs cannot even be put to sleep humanely as this is against the law in Sri Lanka.  According to a lawyer I consulted I would end up in very big trouble – jail in fact - if I pursued this option.  
I have been told that the only thing I can do is to `drive away` and leave these trusting animals on their own, with no food, water, shelter or protection and they will have to take their chances.  I am sure you will understand that abandoning them is not an option for me.  These are much loved and cherished pets who have been saved once already from intolerably miserable deaths.  The dogs would have no chance, they are simply not equipped now to be self-sufficient or to compete with the existing `survivors` out there who have managed to work out a way to do this.  It would absolutely break my heart to abandon them and break the trust they have in me to look after them now.  The best they could hope for would be to be killed outright on the road, and at worst would die a long lingering death of starvation and or illness.   

Please believe that none of this is exaggerated, I have witnessed it many more times than I can bear to remember myself during the past four years here.  
Everything being equal, and had Nick not died, if we had needed to come back to the UK we would have had the money to bring the dogs back with us.  This had always been our `plan` should we have had to leave our beautiful wildlife heaven we have created out here for the elephants, wild birds, monkeys and wide variety of other animals which now live in our `garden`.      
Very sadly though, owing to some so-called `friends` that Nick had trusted here when we arrived in  Sri Lanka, I am left with only one option - I have to walk-away with nothing from our assets here.  I cannot even access our bank account or sell the home we built together.  This leaves me at the moment with very little, but to preserve my sanity and in the best welfare interests of the dogs, I must find a way to get them back to the UK as soon as possible, where I am sure we will be able to find homes for them with good people.  The options are far greater for them in the UK, despite the support they will need to adjust to a very different way of life, and there will be time to protect their future wellbeing while they are in rabies quarantine for their first four months in England.  This will be a labour-of-love because these kind-tempered dogs will be very confused and will require much reassurance when they arrive in England.

I implore you to help me achieve this.  I would really not be asking if things were not so desperate but I look at these lovely dogs and cannot start to think that there is any alternative, and I must try to secure their futures.
Some very kind people have already expressed a desire to help, and we have secured places for these five dogs in an extremely helpful approved quarantine kennels, called the Calagran Four Paws Hotel, Chesterfield, Derbyshire who have gone out of their way to limit the costs involved given the circumstances.  JCS Livestock, a division of James Cargo Services Ltd, at Heathrow have agreed to ensure their arrival at Heathrow is as inexpensive and smooth as possible and have offered to deliver them to the kennels.  I am madly working getting all of the pre-export procedures worked out at this end.  I need to achieve this before the end of June as I am only able to stay myself until the first week of July, and I must make sure the dogs leave before I do.

Penny Rudd (based in Chester, UK) has offered to open a dedicated Bank Account into which anyone who is interested can donate funds (however small – every penny will count and be so much appreciated).    
Bank:                                   Halifax
Account Holder:               Mrs P. Rudd
Account Number:            11436361
Sort Code:                         11-02-80
For International Transfers
IBAN                                   GB73HLFX11028011436361
BIC                                      HLFXGB21H65

Alternatively – anyone who would prefer to pay via the secure Paypal System can do this through

Please feel free to pass this message on to anyone who you feel may want to help these dogs get to the UK and then potentially be interested when we come to finding homes for them.  Until I know what my own circumstances will be on my return to the UK, I really cannot say whether I will be able to be reunited myself with any of my beloved pets.  Therefore, if you would be interested in rehoming any of these lovely dogs once they have completed their four months in quarantine, please contact

Please, please, if you feel you can help in any way at all, we would be so grateful if you donated whatever you feel you can afford, however tiny, to help with this cause.  
My very sincerest thanks to those of you who feel you can help.
Penny Boyd
Puttalam, Sri Lanka
June 2014

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