Govt fails to make arrangement, animal lovers doing noble job

Stray dogs awaiting for food outside a shop.
Stray dogs awaiting for food outside a shop.

Amid COVID-19 lockdown, stray canines battle for survival
Goldi Sharma
JAMMU, Apr 5: With each passing day of the lockdown announced in view of COVID-19 pandemic, the battle of stray canines for their survival is becoming more severe with acute scarcity of food while no arrangements so far have been made by the Government.
Even as, the animal lovers have been doing a noble job by offering food to these stray canines from their own pocket in various localities of Jammu, while Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) Commissioner, Avny Lavasa is also reportedly making efforts to feed the stray animals but there could be numerous unknown stray animals, who might be losing their battle of life to hunger in this lockdown.
When the lockdown was announced on March 24, few days later the Government of Odisha had allocated Rs 54 lakhs from the Chief Minister Relief Funds, which was equally distributed among five Municipal Corporations and 48 municipalities, for feeding the stray animals but so far no such initiative has been taken by Jammu and Kashmir Government while its counterpart in Ladakh Government has also done commendable job for the feeding of stray animals in the entire region.
“Approximately there are 30,000 stray dogs within the limits of JMC while the approximate number of cats is still unknown but it could be also in thousands”, an official of JMC informed.
During normal routine days, these stray animals manage their food from the wastage of eateries, poultry and meat shops, eatables dumped by commoners and shopkeepers at various location but after the lockdown most of the sources of food for the stray animals have closed, rendering them hungry, said Rumpy Madaan, who is a member of the Save Animal Value Environment (SAVE).
“Though we call them stray dogs but all of them have groups and reside in a defined territory. Trespassing into other limits often leads to fights between them, restricting the dogs to remain in their limits. The lockdown has created such a situation that food is not available to silent their hunger, so they have to venture in other limits”, another animal lover said.
Moreover many of the dogs took rest during daytime in some hidden places like abandon building, when the markets and city areas remained crowded but during the nights they come out of their hidden shelters and come near the eateries, meat shops and at dumping sites but after the lockdown the dogs have not been getting food, thus could be found roaming during the day time, said another animal lover, who feed them outside SMGS Hospital Jammu, near Indira Chowk.
Some of the animal lovers such as Hakhoo Street Animal Foundation, Disha, Save Animal Value Environment and many others as well as some individual animal lovers have been trying their best to feed the hungry dogs.
Professor Meenakshi Kilam and Kavita Suri of Jammu University have been running a campaign on social media as well as providing financial assistance to feed the stray animals. With the help of volunteers, we have been distributing the cooked as well as packed food like biscuits among the stray dogs in Satwari, Gandhi Nagar, Gole Market, City Chowk, Bus Stand and Janipur area said Namarta Hakhoo a member of Hakhoo Street Animal Foundation.
Moreover volunteers of Disha could also be found distributing eatables among the stray dogs in various localities of Jammu.
Hakhoo said that she had appealed to her neighbourers and others to put the extra cooked foot in some bags and hang the same outside their gates, which would be collected by her on call but so far people have not responded as per her expectations.
The animal lovers also informed that the life of stray cattle was very difficult and during such lockdown it actually turned a nightmare for them. “Among stray dogs and cats, the stronger usually attacks the weak ones and to save themselves, the weaker usually takes shelter in the hidden places and die slowly due to the hunger but only be known after the dead body starts stinking the entire area”, said Madaan, adding that the volunteers have been doing their job for those stray animals who were visible on roadside. However, who were weak, disease ridden and injured they were out of their sight but surely it would huge in number.
The animal lovers said that the Government should allocate separate funds in the wake of ongoing lockdown for the stray animals as the efforts of volunteer animal lovers, JMC Commissioner Avny Lavasa have been proving insufficient in view of their huge number. Though Commissioner JMC had also issued an appeal to the citizens to feed the animals but her appeal has generated limited response so the Government attention becomes more important, according to the animal lovers.
Nodal Officer of Animal Welfare Board of Jammu province, Dr Gourav Choudhary said that there were around 30,000 stray dogs and may be some thousands of stray cats could be there. “So far Government has not allocated any separate funds for the stray animals. I had taken up the matter with the Director Veterinary Jammu for sparing some funds to feed the stray animals but she informed that due to closure of financial year the funds have got lapsed so when the new sanctions are approved, some measure definitely would be taken.