Stray animals across the country have been hit hard by the lockdown. With feeders being stuck in areas they live in and restaurants closed, stray animals are struggling to find food. Standing-up to the situation, the Odisha government is making sure the stray animals across the state are well-fed during the lockdown period,
As the nationwide lockdown phase extends to May 3 to contain the spread of Coronavirus, the Odisha government on Thursday approved the release of additional funds of Rs 80.18 lakh to urban local bodies for feeding stray dogs and other animals. The additional funds will be provided from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund (CMRF) to five municipal corporations, 48 municipalities and 61 NACs (notified area councils) across the state for 19 days.
A notification issued by the housing and urban development department stated that Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation has been allocated Rs 3.80 lakh for 19 days, four other municipal corporations in Berhampur, Cuttack, Rourkela and Sambalpur have received Rs 7.60 lakh. The 48 municipalities in the state have been provided Rs 45.60 lakh and 61 NACs were allocated Rs 23.18 lakh, the notification added.
During the first phase of the nationwide lockdown till April 14 the state government had sanctioned Rs 54 lakh for the purpose of feeding the stray animals, it said. The stray animals depend on locals for food and leftovers from eating joints for their requirements are finding it difficult to find food during the lockdown. The urban local bodies have also been asked to take the help of the service of NGOs and animal welfare organisations in their areas to feed the stray animals.
When the lockdown was imposed, a letter from the Union ministry of animal husbandry sent out to all states requests that veterinary hospitals and dispensaries, including private clinics and animal shelters be allowed to function and veterinary services be considered in the list of 'Essential Services'. A similar letter has been issued by the Animal Welfare Board of India.
In the state of Maharashtra Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray too said pet food shops be allowed to function. Lok Sabha member Maneka Gandhi also wrote a letter addressing those in authority to allow people involved in feeding the stray dogs and other animals.
The 21-day lockdown has led to subtle behavioural changes in stray dogs and has plunged them into a state of confusion, animal behaviourists in Delhi say. Akansha Yadav founder of Pawtricks, a canine training and consulting firm said there was not a behavioural change in all the dogs, but it was possible in specific categories.
"Because people are not on the streets anymore and there is the scarcity of food, dogs may start competing with one another for food," Yadav said.
The animal behaviourist said it was a difficult time for dogs, which are used to human attention, especially those in markets where people pet them and give them food on the go.