The lockdown period is turning out to be extremely testing for shelterless animals and those who are in pet shops. While the shelterless are unable to get enough food and water, those in pet shops are finding themselves in a similar situation now.
Following the lockdown, many pet shops owners have abandoned the incarcerated animals across the city. Random inspection by Karnataka Animal Welfare Board (KAWB), activists and a few NGOs confirmed the situation.
In one such inspection conducted by KAWB in Halsuru on Wednesday, officials found that two rabbits and a few birds had died. Shivananad M. Dambal of KAWB said that they had conducted over 40 such inspection across the city and most of the shops were unauthorized and most of them had abandoned the pets.
“As a temporary measure, I have asked the owners to open the shops and feed them twice a day. In many cases, we have rescued and rehabilitated the pets. Strict action will be taken against them under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960,” he said.
According to a BBMP official, there are over 140 commercial establishments that ran pet shop in city, most of them without licence and proper approval by the Karnataka Welfare Animal Welfare Board.
However, Mr. Dambal says there are many more which the authorities do not know about. "We will find them all and take action against them. We also need support from the public,” he said.
Various NGOs and individuals have complained to the Karnataka Animal Welfare Board, civic body and the police that the owners of many pet shops were not providing food and water to the animals and birds.
They have also appealed to the police and the civic body to provide pet feeders and animal rescuers with curfew passes.
“If the authorities concerned do not act swiftly, those caged will soon starve to death and will probably be unnoticed. That could lead to bigger problems,” Arun Prasad, an animal rights activists, said. He also said that many shop owners wanted to take care of them, but were not able to due to the lockdown.
Sandhya Madappa, honorary secretary, Compassion Unlimited plus Action (CUPA), said that the lockdown had hit the supply chain of animal feeds, leading to a steep increase in prices and also irregular supply. “We have five animal shelters across the city and supply to them is severely affected,” she said, adding that stray dogs and cattle are the worse affected.
Ms. Madappa also said that the volunteers and some others were risking their lives and working towards feeding stray animals and birds. “Some are going beyond their call of duty and supporting and cooperating in such efforts. It’s the responsibility of the government to ensure that their work is hassle free,” she added.
Shashi Kumar, Joint Director, Animal Husbandry Department, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, said that the civic body would provide three vehicles to feed stray animals across the city. “NGOs, individuals can approach the BBMP and we will ensure that such people and organisations are provided with passes and permission,” he said.
‘Don’t feed wildlife’
As photos and videos of wild animals being spotted in the city have started making the rounds on social media, animal rights activists and wildlife rescuers have urged citizens not to feed them.
“Movement of a few wild birds and animals is common in the city. But now, streets are empty and animals and birds are roaming freely. It has come to our notice that people are chasing wildlife that are spotted in the city to shoot videos of them. We urge them not to do that,” said Prasanna Kumar A., a wildlife rescuer.
Another wildlife rescuer said these animals have their own food habits and people should not feed them. “They should only provide water as it is summer,” he added.