Coronavirus outbreak: Strays won't go hungry as vet care made essential service

Updated: Mar 25, 2020, 07:36 IST | Samiullah Khan | Mumbai

Centre issues directive after activists raised concern about the deteriorating health of the stray animals in the absence of food and water

A member of Karuna Trust delivers food for stray animals
A member of Karuna Trust delivers food for stray animals

As most of India was put under lockdown to contain the spread of deadly Coronavirus, activists raised concerns about stray animals dying of hunger, following which the Centre issued an order listing veterinary assistance under the essential services.

"It is requested that veterinary hospitals and dispensaries in states, including private veterinary clinics, veterinary pathologies, animal shelters etc. function in the normal course and the veterinary services be considered in the list of 'Essential Services'," stated the directive issued by the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying on Monday.

Animal activists have suggested individuals/volunteers be allowed to feed animals and birds twice a day during the lockdown
Animal activists have suggested individuals/volunteers be allowed to feed animals and birds twice a day during the lockdown

Mitesh S Jain, the District Animal Welfare Officer of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) told mid-day that people aren't able to feed the stray animals due to the lockdown. Consequently, health of several stray animals is deteriorating, he said.

The animal lovers then raised this concern before AWBI Chairman Dr O P Chaudhary who wrote to the chief secretaries of the all states and union territories, asking that the district administration allot a specific time twice a day for individuals/volunteers to feed street animals and birds, Jain said.

He also requested that authorities create awareness among the public and appeal to the law enforcement agencies to take care of stray animals till the lockdown ends.

Meanwhile, Karuna Trust in Virar, an animal welfare organisation of which Jain is one of the trustees, on Tuesday started distributing food like biscuits and rice to animal lovers for them to feed over 3,000 stray dogs, cats and bovines in Palghar district.

The trust has made a list of at least 100 such people to whom they will supply the food items for the animals. We are using our ambulance to deliver the food to the animal lovers' door step, Jain said.

Crocodile rescued

In less than a week, NGOs in the city rescued two crocodiles. NGO PAWS-Mumbai on Friday saved a seven-foot crocodile from Bhandup Water Complex, from where RAWW had on Friday rescued another 3-foot crocodile. PAWS volunteers rushed to Bhandup after receiving a distress call from BMC and rescued the crocodile, weighing 75 kg, that had fallen six feet deep into a pit near Van Devi Mandir. It had wandered to the area from a nearby lake. The crocodile RAWW volunteers rescued had entered a BMC water purification plant in Bhandup. With the lockdown in the city, PAWS, RAWW and ACF are busy providing animal rescue services.

By Ranjeet Jadhav

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