City folks join hands to feed strays amid Covid lockdown
It’s not only strangers on the Internet lending a helping hand and delivering meals to Covid-hit families but a few good Samaritans in the city are also ensuring stray dogs remain well-fed during the lockdown. With the thought that being compassionate to animals is just as important to being kind to their own pets, city folks are going the extra mile — juggling between work schedules and volunteer work during Covid-19 times to feed and take care of the strays.
“Ever since we started the service of providing no-cost meals to Covid-19 patients, my inbox has been full of food requests for strays, especially around Greater Kailash 1, CR Park and Safdarjung Enclave. These areas are near hospitals and people are afraid to step out and feed,” says Majid Khan, a resident of Zakir Nagar.
Apart from the localities close to hospital, strays near eateries, offices and shopping complexes are most affected as well. A pet parent to two dogs, and a volunteer Parul Taneja from Faridabad says, “The restaurants and markets were shut suddenly, the strays that used to rely on leftover or waste are now either starving or scavenging for food.”
Feeders need to be careful about the human-animal conflict and create a safe environment not only for the strays but also folks living nearby. Taneja adds, “Some people who are new to feeding place the food bowls anywhere but it’s advisable to feed them in the particular spots as also recommended recently by Delhi High Court.” Another animal lover, Anuradha Dogra from Animal Hospital and Shelter, NOIDA also highlights that the strays can be territorial of their space. She says, “There can be three packs at one place. Feed them in their designated territory, else it will end up in a clash.”
City individuals were further motivated to step up their initiatives with the news of Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik sanctioning ₹60lakh to feed stray animals during the lockdown, a police officer, Chiranjeev Sinha, being conferred the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India Award for feeding stray dogs, monkeys and cows during the lockdown, and a video of Subramaniyan Potty S, another police officer, feeding street dogs even during a busy day at work.
Dr Vivek Arora, a veterinary surgeon, says one needs to consider the weather before preparing meals for the strays. He suggest, “The next few months are going to be hot, and food should not go stale before the animals eat it. Paneer and curd are better substitute as they take longer to go bad. But if larger groups are to be fed or the strays are far away from the residential complex – buy animal food in bulk from manufacturers as they also have a longer shelf life.”
He also advises feeding cucumbers, carrots and frozen watermelon slices that high in water content to bear the scorching heat. Dr Arora also recommends an inexpensive way to help dogs cool down during summer months. He says, “There can be possibilities of heat stroke and non-availability of water, so one can put cloth or jute bags sprinkled with water to provide some comfort.”
Dogra also advises placing earthen bowls filled with water and mentions that feeding time should be either early morning or during sunset as the animals stay hidden or burrowed when the temperature peaks.
Experts also suggest volunteers to fix a schedule to be able to feed maximum number of dogs and share the responsibility so that not one individual needs to step out during lockdown.