Release funds to feed community dogs and cats, Court tells govt.

Vijaya Annamalai, who runs a small roadside stall, manages to feed nearly 35 dogs every day.   | Photo Credit: PICHUMANI K

The Madras High Court on Thursday ordered that the State government should immediately release adequate funds to the Animal Husbandry Department for purchasing feed for community animals during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Commending a committee appointed by it for coming up with a “lovely” plan of action to feed community dogs, cats and beach horses abandoned by their owners during the COVID-19 lockdown, the court said the scope of the committee could be expanded and it could be ensured that even domesticated elephants were taken care of.

Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy told advocate A. Yogeshwaran, a member of the panel, that the Bench was fully satisfied with the plan of action chalked out to feed the community animals.

Last week, a Bench of Justices Anita Sumanth and Ramamoorthy had directed the government counsel R. Neelakandan to make sure that a committee comprising Animal Husbandry Additional Director S. Arunachalakani, Mr. Yogeshwaran, Blue Cross Chairman-Emeritus S. Chinny Krishna and Besant Memorial Animal Dispensary founder Shravan Krishnan was constituted to address the issue of feeding community animals.

The direction was issued on a public interest litigation petition filed by Chennai- based animal lover V.E. Shiva who brought to the notice of the court that the animals suffered without food waste since dining had been prohibited in hotels, restaurants and other eateries during the lockdown. After its constitution, the committee held two meetings online and submitted an exhaustive report to the court on feeding the animals.

According to the report, several community dog feeders in Saidapet, Anna Nagar, West Mambalam and other localities spread across Chennai had stopped feeding the community dogs and cats mostly due to financial crisis faced by them after losing their jobs during COVID-19. Some feeders were facing trouble because of the curbs imposed on public movement on roads. The result was that the community dogs and cats were dying because of hunger.

Even horses used for joy rides in the beaches of the city were left starving since their owners were not able to feed them due to loss of earnings primarily because all places of recreation had been closed down during the lockdown. Shiranee Pereira, chief functionary and co-founder of People for Animals (Chennai) Charitable Trust, had identified 98 such horses in the city and had been looking for funds to feed those animals.

Dry food

The committee delved on all these issues and decided to purchase dry dog and cat food from pedigree and drool since it would not be feasible to establish community kitchens in all areas, during the lockdown period, to provide cooked food to the animals. It was decided to purchase 5,000 kg of dog food and 200 kg of cat food, store them in various locations in the city and supply to the nearby community feeders with travel passes.

However, since Blue Cross had been cooking food for about 450 dogs every day using rice, dal, ghee and soya nuggets, it was decided to request the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation (TNCSC) to supply 40 kg rice, 10 kg dal, two litres of ghee and one litre of oil a day for continuing the provision of cooked food to those animals. It was decided to approach private biscuit and bread manufacturing companies to donate low-cost biscuits.

After finding that a bank account created by the Animal Husbandry Department for receiving Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds was empty, the committee wrote to 25 corporates soliciting funds. It wrote to the government seeking allocation of ₹9.20 lakh to buy dog and cat feed but the funds were yet to be released, Mr. Yogeshwaran told the court and sought a direction for early release of the amount.

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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 9:46:53 PM |

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