Hyderabad: In view of the Corona virus outbreak in the country and to prevent the spread of the virus, several parts of India are under lockdown. With public establishments shutting down and people under home quarantine, thousands of stray animals in the country that depend on restaurants and open markets are having a hard time finding food. The Animal Welfare Board of India has sent an advisory to the chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories regarding the care that needs to be given to animals in case of a lockdown.

Dr O.P Chaudhary, chairman of the animal welfare board, said, “Feed and fodder for large animals and food for companion and stray animals is an essential service and may be kept operational during the lockdown.” He further requested law enforcement authorities to see that animals and birds do not suffer due to hunger.

Meanwhile, Pravalik N, founder of Compassionate Society for Animals, an animal welfare organisation based in Hyderabad told NewsMeter, “Though there is a Central guideline, the state government has not approached us so far regarding the protection of stray animals. It’s understandable that they are busy controlling the pandemic. But what is saddening is the silence of people who represent animal welfare organisations in government bodies.”

Ms Pravalika further said there are several pet shops in the city that are indefinitely closed following the rumour. She alleged that most pets in those shops are starving as owners don’t bother to check on them. “Despite reassurance from the World Health Organisation that animals can’t carry the virus the fear still prevails among the public. People want to give away their pets, kill stray dogs. Pet shop owners have irresponsibly shut down their shops. The animals and birds inside might starve to death. I have written to DGP M. Mahender regarding the matter.”

Dr Chaudary in his letter to the states also said, “Not feeding animals may cause a large number of animals and birds to suffer and die and carcasses of the dead animals and birds may further spread different diseases amongst communities which will be difficult to control.”
Meanwhile, the animal welfare board has taken a new step. The board has said that all emergency veterinary services have to stay functional. Fortunately, there are citizens who have come forwards to feed the stray animals in the city. Ms Pravalika said, “The public is coming forward to take care of stray animals. They are asking for a feeding protocol. We have asked them not to do it in a group and to do it early in the morning. Feed wherever your homes are.”

Maneka Gandhi has also released a statement asking people to feed as many strays as possible and whenever possible to help the animals survive. “I have requested all animal welfare workers to feed the animals during this period of a lockdown. I will be doing the same. Please allow them to do so. If there is any problem, please contact me on 08800067890,” she tweeted.

Dheeshma Puzhakkal

Dheeshma Puzhakkal is currently a Reporter with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University, she has interned with Greater Kashmir newspaper and NDTV. Dheeshma has also made short films and documentaries. Her documentary ‘Still I Rise’, which is based on sex-trafficking in Hyderabad’s Old City, has earned accolades in several film festivals, such as International Documentary and Short Film Festival, Kerala (IDSFFK). An avid foodie, she loves to travel and listen to stories that others tell. Photography is one of her all-time interests. She has extensively written on satellite-based journalism, health, consumer, and data stories besides covering anti-crime investigative agencies.

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