The tsunami hit the Sri Lankan coast on 24th December 2004; with the north, east and south coasts most severely affected by this natural disaster. More than sixty thousand people lost their lives and thousands lost their relatives, livelihoods and homes. Thousands of animals also died and thousands more were homeless, injured and traumatized. The majority of farm animals and some of the companion animals were resettled with their owners in the resettlement camps or homes of close relatives and friends.
Due to the persistent widespread disruption, there was anxiety concerning outbreaks of rabies and other zoonotic diseases that would impact human health. This led to a threat of large scale stray dog elimination as an immediate control measure.
Many humanitarian agencies responded well to the disaster and rehabilitation work was initiated almost immediately. Several local and international animal welfare organizations entered the scene as an immediate post tsunami response; focusing mainly on animal rescue, feeding, rabies vaccination, sterilization and other relief work.
Blue Paw Trust, one of the member societies of the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), was one of the first groups to join in the post tsunami animal rehabilitation work. BPT launched small scale rescue, treating sick and injured animals, providing foods to devastated animals, rabies vaccination, and other relief works in the severely affected eastern and southern parts of Sri Lanka. Approximately 20,000 dogs were vaccinated during this early response phase, lasting through to March 2005.
From May 2005 in collaboration with WSPA, BPT conducted a two year project with two mobile clinics on the south and east coast vaccinating owned animals against rabies and also conducting mass sterilization and public education campaigns.