Who has the right to take away their rights?

This month has not been a good one for dog lovers around the world. The forced euthanization of Lennox in Ireland after two years of court battles was followed by an equally horrible treatment of Wicca in Canada. Both dogs, pit bull,s were considered dangerous to society and were therefore put down. The fact that there was no evidence, or very little to prove the aggressive nature of the dogs was of no concern. Halfway around the world in Sri Lanka, animal rights activists were fighting to save the lives of stray dogs on the streets of Colombo.

Lennox was denied the right to live because an unnamed expert in Belfast described him as one of the most unpredictable and dangerous dogs he had come across. Yet this expert did not give his opinion before any court of law nor did he provide evidence for his claims. The City Council of Belfast took his word for it and went ahead. After two years of being locked up and treated in a horrible and degrading manner by the authorities Lennox was euthanized. He was denied justice even at the very end. His owners too were denied the right to see him or even give him a proper burial. Why was Lennox’s remains secretly cremated and the ashes not given to his owners? Was it because the gruesome nature of his treatment at the hands of authorities would somehow been reveled had the remains been handed over to the family? These are questions that remain unanswered and have sparked anger at authorities.

Lennox’s death could have been avoided if only authorities had agreed to shift him elsewhere, to America where he would have had the chance to live. Yet authorities in Ireland preferred to look the other way and go ahead with their rules.

Wicca’s death was even more unnecessary. Here were the authorities taking the law into their own hands. There was no evidence to prove that Wicca was dangerous. The so called reason for his sentencing – the attack on a woman, was hardly evidence. The woman in question did not bring charges against Wicca yet the authorities chose to act on their own and sentence a dog to death for no reason.

Street dogs are being rounded up and killed in Sri Lanka. Animal rights activist have been staging frequent protests in Colombo demanding to know what has happened to the stray dogs they have been feeding. In a bid to beautify the city of Colombo authorities appear to be going ahead with getting rid of not only the strays, most of whom are sterilized and vaccinated, but also birds nesting in trees. Animal rights activists claim that despite the “no kill” policy adopted by the government in 2010 the strays are being rounded up and taken away.

Animals have rights too wherever they live. They are part of society and should be treated as such. But what happens when authorities take the upper hand? Where is the law to protect these innocent victims and what right has the state or authorities to aggressively go ahead with their wishes without due process of the law?

Family and friends of Lennox have begun a process to prevent such acts of aggression from taking place for other pit bulls. The same is being done in Canada. Activists are fighting for the rights of strays on the streets in Sri Lanka. But would legislature be enough? Who takes action against those in authority who violate the very laws they are supposed to uphold? This might be something that activists everywhere need to look at in details if we are to put an end to the violation of animal rights the world over.

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