While we snuggle into our blankets and wrap ourselves in jackets in this chilling winter, our furry friends have no choice but to suffer on the roads.
However, some good Samaritans in the national capital are trying their best to provide the basic needs to stray animals during winters.
House of Stray Animals (HSA), an NGO based in New Delhi, has initiated a drive through which it distributed winter jackets and beds to stray animals this December. It also vaccinated them.
The drive started on December 19 and ended on December 31 with an awareness campaign. Almost 600 volunteers from all over the city joined the campaign to make winters warm for the animals.
The NGO has created a network of volunteers and distributed 5,500 – 6,000 winter jackets and sweaters and 300 beds in different areas for stray dogs.
“Animals are a part of our society and it becomes our responsibility to take care of them. Like every living being, they also need proper living conditions and healthcare. This is what we are trying to do,” says founder Sanjay Mohapatra.
He plans to distribute around 20,000 winter jackets and sweaters this winter, along with vaccinations for multiple animal diseases.
Mohapatra is known for his love for animals in the community and often receives around 6,500 calls in a month for animal-related problems.
His animal dispensary located at Sector 54, Noida remains open 24/7 and deals with all kinds of problems related to animals and provides not only healthcare but also shelter to them.
This winter, HSA has vaccinated over 100 dogs free of cost to immunise them from diseases like canine parvovirus and canine distemper. It also administered anti-rabies vaccine to avoid future rabies infection that can be transmitted through bites and scratches, besides giving deworming medication, which helps in relieving dogs from stomach worms that can lead to discomfort and aggression.
Mohapatra’s drive this winter is trying to create a community of animal-lovers who will make people aware of human-animal interaction, animal needs and the society’s perception towards stray animals.
“A lot of people think that stray animals are needless creatures existing in society. Where will they go if we have occupied places they used to live in? It is among us they should live and we should be responsible for their needs,” says Mohapatra.
He is concerned about the negative perception about animals, especially dogs, because of some attacks that have happened in the past.
“Many times, animals are blamed for no reason. What may seem like an attack is sometimes a reaction in self-defence,” he rues.
HSA survives through crowd-funding and contribution from volunteers.
“Animals are a responsibility of the government. However, facilities by the government are not enough or not functioning properly. We are trying to fill these gaps from our own pockets because we care for animals and how they live,” says Mohapatra.
At Perroayuda Welfare Foundation, a youth-led NGO, volunteers are doing whatever they can to help the stray animals.
The NGO has kept bori (jute) beds and blankets at different locations in Delhi for animals. Winter coats have also been given to the stray animals to protect them from the harsh wind.
“Winters are very harsh for stray animals. They do not have proper shelter and mostly survive on roads. Road accidents involving animals are also very common due to fog and lack of visibility. Moreover, stray animals are more prone to diseases in winters than in other seasons. We are trying to give them a good amount of food to address this as it will help in keeping them warm and protect them from various diseases,” says Prabhhjeet Singh, co-founder and director of the NGO.
The NGO has more than 100 volunteers from different parts of the city who contribute to the welfare of stray animals. “Although we get money from crowd-funding, more than 50% of our expenditure comes from our pockets,” Singh explains.
The organisation’s shelter home in Rohini has more than 100 animals and is well-equipped for winters. Heaters are kept to provide warmth and mattresses along with blankets are placed throughout the shelter for the stray animals to sleep peacefully. Moreover, nutritious food is also provided at the shelter every day.
While non-government organisations are extending helping hand to the stray animals, there are Delhiites who are taking tiny steps individually in their localities.
Shivansh Tokas, 22, and 25-year-old Ankit Tokas from Vasant Vihar spend all their pocket money to provide for the stray animals. They feed warm milk to the 45 dogs and have also kept jute beddings for them in the area.
“We do all of this with our pocket money. One jute bedding costs us Rs 85, while one warm jacket costs us around Rs 160. Sometimes, the shopkeepers give these for cheap since we are helping the stray animals,” says Shivansh.
“I plan to put warm jackets and sweaters on these animals this winter. However, I sometimes face problems since they get scared when I try to catch them. I have already provided jackets to those who came to me when I called them,” he adds.
Shivansh started dog-feeding in 2020 after coming across social media accounts that created awareness around stray animals. He currently runs an account on Instagram and has around 35 thousand followers.
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