With residents not serving food and water to the street animals, the greatest threat for the animals is dehydration, said veterinary doctor R Sokkalingam. “Cats will die of dehydration in one day. Dogs are sturdier and they can last for a few days. With the heat increasing, the threat of dehydration is high. Cats are shy around humans, so even if you try to feed them, they might just flee,” he said. Many are afraid to leave their homes due to the threat of COVID19, said Sokkalingam. While some residents fear to step out, animal-lovers who usually feed the strays in their street have not been able to continue their service. “When I put out some rice and chapatti two days ago, the police came and asked me to stop. Despite the fact that I was trying to help out, they told me that I was not allowed to feed the animals without permission. So, what I’ve decided to do is step out with some biscuits on the way to the grocery store to feed the dogs on the way,” said a resident of Anna Nagar.
Animal welfare organisations in the city have been mobilising units to ensure that strays are fed. A team of five from the Blue Cross of India have been feeding strays in Teynampet, Beach Road, Mylapore, and parts of Guindy a nutritious meal of dal, rice and ghee for the last two days.
“We have been working with the locals and giving them bulk produce to prepare for the animals. We also have a letter from the Animal Welfare Board of India that we have given copies to the locals to show the police should they be stopped, and encouraging them to use masks and gloves when feeding. We are in the process of setting up water bowls that will be filled daily over the next 21 days by local volunteers,” said Velu TM, manager, special operations, Blue Cross of India.