Being a canine behaviorist and during my undergrad days in the US the insights I got from there during the care of my then rescued pet’s health care treatments and with my training course with K9 Connection, New York, I had started my work in animal welfare to put my experience to good use. In Chennai, I rescued and sheltered about 12 dogs from around OMR and ECR mostly as sick puppies or abandoned dogs. They are vaccinated sterilized and pack trained to be amicable with each other.
Once the lockdown was announced what had started as proving one time feed to a few stray dogs near my place has now grown to over 50-60 dogs a day. Their state is frighteningly bad and it is not in me to deny food for them. Many volunteers and I are running short of resources and here I am reaching out to each of you to find it in your heart to donate even if it’s a small sum to me, knowing that your contribution can feed one starving tummy or few.
The NGOs and all volunteers trying to feed all the stranded stray animals are having severe shortage of funds and the only way this can be addressed is if each of you can be kind enough to help these voiceless beings and us, those who try and provide these beings with a onetime feed.
1. What do you feed the dogs?
Pedigree chicken and liver in gravy pouch, and kibble; puppy and adult dogs are served one pouch and 120-150gms kibble, Pregnant/lactating dogs are given 2-3 pouches and 250-300gms kibble. The Volunteers even feed cooked chicken and rice, biscuits, or anything that they can source.
2. Do you feed dogs on the streets or just the ones in your rescue?
The purpose of raising funds is so that I can feed more dogs on the streets, the beach, etc. Currently I feed 40 dogs in Kotivakkam, 20 dogs in Palavakkam, and 20 more between Neelankarai and Injambakkam. Every day I bump into more dogs; what started with feeding 5 dogs on my street has increased to 60 and with more help I would be able to feed more dogs.
3. Are you violating Lock-down/curfew?
No. I’ve got permission from the Neelankarai police station to go about feeding dogs between kotivakkam & Injambakkam on ECR. I’m equipped with gloves, a mask, and hand sanitizer as I go about feeding the dogs; I’m aware of social distancing and keep away from interacting with others.
4. How many people volunteer with the feeding?
I know of 15 volunteers who feed over 2000 dogs across the city and a couple of NGOs who also feed other animals all of whom are running short of resources.
5. How much does it cost to feed a dog a day?
A pedigree pouch cost INR30, and 150gms kibble approximately cost INR23
6. Is the quantity provided sufficient for a dog?
Yes, over feeding may lead to further health problems. An average indie dog weighs between 6-15kg. The above mentioned quantity is sufficient on a daily basis for a dog with sedentary lifestyle. The quantity of kibble is increased for larger dogs 15+KG, and reduced for obese dogs that tend to over eat.
7. What else do you do for the street dogs other than feeding?
It’s hard to monitor if they get water at all time, which is the why I give them pouch food as it has some water content to it. Other than the food, I tend to dogs who have skin issues, tick infestations and roundworm infection. During the lock-down it isn’t feasible, but I am identifying the dogs and getting acquainted with them so I can sterilize them once the lock-down is done; the contributions will go towards this as well.
8. Has anybody else reached out to help during the lock-down?
Yes, a few volunteers came forward to help with feeding; three hotels came to their aid to help with cooked rice and meat which feeds 400 dogs every day. With their business on a downward spiral as well, it’s a matter of time that they run out of resources for the dogs.
9. What localities do you all cover?
Pooja covers Kottivakkam, journalist colony, and part of thirvanmyur. Ashwath, Selva and Abhinaya cover Kodambakkam, pondy bazaar, T.nagar, Ashok nagar, airport road till Olympia tech, Shenoy nagar, PH road, Vadapalani and Vepery; And I cover Palavakkam, Neelankarai, Vetuvankanni and Injambakkam.
10. Do you litter while feeding the dogs?
I clean the side walk or pick up tiles/ flat rocks and place the food on it near the dogs. I try not to feed the dogs near gates or homes to avoid confrontation with other people. The volunteers collect the food in containers or paper wrapped packs, feed the dogs on clean sidewalks; once they eat if there is any leftovers, it is mostly picked up by the crows and sometimes the cows. All plastics from the pouch and paper for the rice are collected and tossed into a dumpster.
11. What does the future hold for the dogs in the rescue?
The rescues live in a cage free facility, are pack trained to live in harmony with other dogs and humans alike and they are up for adoption with due processing.
12. Will you continue the rescue work?
For now I do not have resources to support anymore new ones but I do volunteer to rescue calls from known sources whenever time permits.
13. What is the other source of income that helps you support your rescues?
I earn mainly from dog training – behavior modification and pack etiquette. With the lock down in place it if difficult to earn enough to fund the stray animals feeding all by myself and also support my rescues.