Cruelty against animals is often dismissed as a non-issue. Considering this prevalent mindset that even accepts the killing of street dogs to reduce their numbers, the few animal welfare organisations functioning in the State have often struggled to have their views that support mass sterilisation of dogs heard.

Animal Rescue Kerala (ARK) is one such flailing entity that is being shut down as the founder can no longer support it financially or physically, with so many discouraging factors working against it. Avis Lyons, a British national, has worked very hard for the past 11 years to sterilise dogs, at least in the vicinity of Kovalam, and urge the city Corporation to pay heed to the Central government directive that prescribes the implementation of the Animal Birth Control (ABC) and Anti-Rabies programme.

In her personal capacity, she has sterilised over 6,000 dogs in the area and this should imply that there would be fewer numbers of animals to take in. However, the sad truth is that pet owners often dump dogs, including German Shepherds and Labradors, and the centre has seen no reduction in the numbers of maimed dogs they take in. Dogs are territorial, she says, and street dogs attack unfamiliar ones abandoned by their owners.

The centre had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Corporation to sterilise the dogs in and around the Vizhinjam ward, but the dogs stopped arriving in February. After 11 years of confronting Corporation officials, the police, and even the media, Ms. Avis says she just wants to ‘leave quietly.’

The animal lover is diagnosed with cancer and intensive sessions of chemotherapy have taken their toll on her. She wants to spend more time with her family in France but not by leaving her dogs in the lurch.

Ms. Avis has lost count of the number of animals accommodated here, some of which have become her dear pets since they were rescued 11 years ago. She hopes a genuine animal welfare organisation would express interest to take over the place.

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