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Feeding the street dogs during coronavirus pandemic with community participation

Last Updated : 14 May 2020, 12:27 IST

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When 25-year-old Megha Jose heard of street dogs in the industrial city of Coimbatore starving as they could not find food due to the Covid-19 lockdown, she and a group of animal lovers swung into action. Since the last week of March, Jose and 50-odd volunteers are feeding around 1,500 street dogs in various parts of Coimbatore every day to ensure they do not go hungry.

Jose, who quit her job in Cisco and returned to Coimbatore to join her family business, is not new to rescuing and saving street dogs.

She runs a not-for-profit organization, The Pawsome People Project, that is involved in sterilizing the street dogs, putting them in homes, and the organization aims at transforming them into “service dogs.” The NGO, which was launched in September 2019, has been working to reduce the overpopulation of street dogs that leads to their abandonment and death.

“To be honest, this (feeding street dogs) was not on our minds, when the Covid-19 lockdown came into force in the last week of March. We came to know that several street dogs are starving, and a cat died too due to lack of food and that is when we decided to pitch in. We are 50 volunteers now going around the city to feed 1,500 dogs every day,” Jose told DH.

The volunteers are mostly professionals and college students who are confined to their homes now.

With restaurants and other food outlets in the city downing their shutters due to the lockdown, street dogs that depend on discarded food began starving. The Pawsome People Project decided to put its social media handles to optimum use to generate funds for feeding the street dogs and the “overwhelming” response proved that people indeed love animals.

As they say, small drops make an ocean, humble contributions from hundreds of people have made a difference to these 1,500 street dogs – they do not go hungry anymore. And Jose’s WhatsApp is flooded with requests to help street dogs in a particular locality and people offering to be volunteers.

Jose said they buy dry food in bulk from stores that are open and also collect cooked food from those willing to offer and give them to the street dogs. “Volunteers take the dry food with them in bulk and feed the dogs every day. As far as the cooked food is concerned, they take it from wherever it is available and give it to the hungry dogs. It is the community participation that has made our initiative a success,” the entrepreneur said.

And the street dogs have become “friendly” with the volunteers which could be immensely helpful in taking these creatures for sterilization programmee in the future. Jose said the complaints against street dogs from residents have also reduced considerably.

“Ultimately, we are working for the betterment of dogs. We want to reduce the number of street dogs, put them in homes, and in the future, train them to become service dogs. Our effort is ensuring peaceful co-existence with street dogs,” Jose said.

The Pawsome People Project surprised the city of Coimbatore when it hosted Tamil Nadu’s first Pet Festival in February this year which saw the participation of over 3500 people and nearly 300 dogs. The NGO plans more such events and conducts awareness campaigns to spread the message of co-existence and adoption of our street dogs.

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Published 14 May 2020, 12:27 IST

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