INDIAN Most shops remain closed, including most restaurants, bakeries and even several meat shops and grocery stores. Many of these establishments were significant food sources for street dogs, along with garbage dumps. There has also been a reduction in garbage generation. The net effect of all of this, along with the reduced movement of people, is a steep drop in food sources for street dogs.
Street dogs rely heavily on people’s generosity as well as their garbage . the initial part of the lock down caused a lot of confusion in the dogs. They were disoriented, and that seemed to make them panic. This is dangerous for them because moving into other territories can lead to fights, and some dogs may be fatally injured in such fights.
So these dogs do face not just starvation, but also, grave injury and death resulting from both. For India, this can be very bad news, because animal carcasses can result in other rat- and flea-borne diseases.
The saving grace in these times is the spirit of the stresses’ caretakers. Thankfully, the government of India and the Animal Welfare Board of India also issued circulars encouraging feeding of street animals. Several political leaders and policemen are setting the right example by going out and feeding the dogs themselves or extending support to those feeding the dogs. This has resulted in many more citizens stepping out to feed the dogs right outside their homes. But this by itself is not sufficient. The more seasoned streety-feeders have scaled up their operations to feed hundreds, if not thousands, of dogs. It is back-breaking work and they are in need of financial help as well. Still, it is heartening to see the people of the country care for these animals.
Many of these dogs are known to be very discerning about what they eat. But not anymore. The fighting seems to be diminishing. As they find ways to fill their bellies, the panic seems to be reduced. But what is rather interesting is that they are demonstrating that apart from food, they also need contact. Yesterday, when I was out feeding, I found a few dogs who were not feeding in a frenzy, but actually walked away from the food to ask if I could pet them. The need for human contact, in itself, seems to be a consistent need for these dogs.
These dogs actually seem love us, not just the food we give them. There’s more to it.