3 Activists Share How They Help Animals Cope With the Lockdown

From feeding stray animals to providing shelter to pets from Covid-positive families and more, here's how animal welfare crusaders are helping the voiceless.

Anupam Mehta

anupam mehta

"During the lockdown, I saw some stray dogs sitting out on the road, probably wondering where all the humans were. My first thought was that the dogs are hungry. So, I asked my mom to cook something for them and that’s how my journey started. We are making each and every effort to successfully feed 200 and more stray animals during the lockdown. I never thought my one small initiative of feeding 5 dogs would make me register a trust, Touch And Treat for the Stray Animals and their Betterment."

Cosmo: How have you and your organization helped these animals?

Anupam Mehta: Over the last year, we have vaccinated over a hundred puppies, sterilized a large number of stray animals, and helped with various rescue and treatment cases - maggot wounds, skin infections and leg wounds. Apart from this, we have set up dog houses, winter jute beds and blankets for the stray animals across Delhi/NCR. Our team of volunteers have been feeding over 200 animals during the lockdown.

This summer we have also started our campaign The Water Bowl Project by placing earthen bowls filled with water for animals and birds. We aim to place 250 bowls this summer. We have also successfully served 1 lakh plus food meals over the span of a year across Delhi/NCR. Our team of volunteers take this very seriously and have done a great job so far!
 
Cosmo: How much time do you spend every day, tending to animals in need?
 
AM: I spend about 4-5 hours every day on the streets feeding the animals at grey spot areas and helping the sick or injured ones by getting them the right treatment.
 
Cosmo: What can every animal lover do to help animals around them?
 
You can take the initiative to feed a few stray animals around your community or residential areas. Keep two bowls filled outside your house at all times – one with water and the other with food.
 
Vasanthi Kumar, Co-founder and Managing Trustee, STRAW India

straw india

"The pandemic and the lockdown have been both a blessing and a curse to the animals around us. While the lockdown resulted in lesser humans, cars and pollution on the street, it was party time for the animals to move around freely without getting abused. But the flip side of the coin especially right at the beginning of the pandemic was that people were under the illusion that the virus was transmitted through animals and many of them even abandoned their pets due to that myth. Secondly, with restaurants and shops shut and lesser humans around, stray dogs and cats were left starving. This was a concern, especially during the winter months, when the stray animals were left without shelter and food. Luckily, it was during this time that some people took the responsibility to feed the strays around their homes."

Cosmo: How have you and your organization helped these animals?

Vasanthi Kumar: India is the land of universal compassion (ahimsa); a land where elephants, cows and monkeys are worshipped. Despite that, we find animals facing terrible suffering because of the rampant unawareness that these voiceless creatures feel pain as much as we humans do.

STRAW India has therefore taken upon itself the mission to sow seeds of compassion among school children and to create awareness about various animal welfare issues among college students. Our motto is 'Animal Welfare through Humane Education.'

During the lockdown, we introduced the Stories of Kindness webinar series for school children and Kindness Dialogues for college students to inspire compassion for animals. Students have been encouraged to take care of stray animals in their own neighbourhoods. During the last year or so, STRAW would have sensitized over a thousand students to be kind to animals and to care for them. 

Cosmo: Tell us about a heart-warming story that makes you feel proud about what you do.

VK: Last winter, we had conducted a session for the students where they were asked to bring one pillow cover each for making straw beds for stray animals. Many students ended up bringing 5- 6 pillow covers because they wanted to make warm beds not just for one but for the entire doggie family, their friends and the other kitties too!

When conducting the Stories of Kindness sessions, we often get to hear innovative and practical solutions to many problems. For example, a regular participant of our sessions, seven-year-old Mihir suggested building metallic elephants at temples instead of making the real elephants stand at temples for painfully long hours.

Cosmo: What can every animal lover do to help animals around them?

VK: We at STRAW believe that every animal lover should influence as many friends and relatives as possible to be kind and take care of all creatures on this earth. For one of our programs, Each ONE Care for ONE, we urge each child to adopt (at least) one stray animal in their neighbourhood and provide food, water and medical attention to that one animal. Imagine if each family adopts one stray dog on the street, it may be possible that almost every stray finds a home.

Vipul Agrahari, Happy Pettings Pet Boarding Service

happy pettings

"We have some dogs staying with us whose families are hospitalised due to Coronavirus. Then, there are some who are staying with us because the residential complexes and colonies are not letting pet parents take their dogs our for a walk. We are also taking care of some pets whose owners have moved temporarily from the city due to the pandemic."

Cosmo: How have you and your organization helped these animals? 

Vipul Agrahari: We use PPE kits and ensure COVID-appropriate behaviour ahile transferring dogs from Covid-positive families. We have a fixed process of getting the dog, washing, drying and sanitisating. We do not take any belongings from the infected house. So, the owner does not have to do anything, they just need to let us know the timing for the pick up and location. 

Cosmo: Tell us about a heart-warming story that makes you feel proud about what you do.

VA: We have a very sweet boarder, a pug dog named Ginger, staying with us for almost a year and counting. His owners moved to Canada with the intention to relocate to the Unite States and had planned to get their pet after the move. However, the lockdown happened and now, the dog is stuck here. 
His owners want to come get him but now the dog is almost 11 years old, making it impossible for him to take a flight. At the moment his boarding cost ia almost the price of a round-trip ticket from the US to India.  

So, my wife and I have decided that he will become a part of our family now if he cannot reunite with his owners. There are many similar stories of pets who have been left behind due to travel restricitons.It is a very difficult time. 

(Coordinated by Akansha Bahadur)