There were around 35 million stray animals in India, in 2018, and the population is only increasing, thanks to the lack of infrastructure and funds required to keep it in check. This excess population is transferred to already overcrowded shelters, which have no choice but to put down the animals.
The plight of stray animals is horrible but have you wondered why the stray management problem doesn’t exist in a majority of the countries? Countries with manageable stray populations have spaying and neutering policies, educational reforms and the means to rehome strays into shelters.
Unfortunately, stray management policies are implemented only in a handful of places and India is not one of them. Indian streets are teeming with strays that need rescuing. Until we introduce proper policies to deal with our strays, you can play a part in safely managing them. Here are 6 things that every individual can do to care for strays.
Join communities that help strays
There are plenty of communities online and offline for helping street animals.
Working with them to feed, vaccinate, and neuter strays can go a long way in reducing the stray population, improving their quality of life, and preventing overcrowding in animal shelters.
If you can’t find suitable communities in your area, team up with like-minded people from your locality to help these stray animals. This way, they’ll live a peaceful life even if it’s on the streets.
Volunteer at animal welfare organizations
Animal welfare organizations are always on the lookout for volunteers who can help them with photography, writing, social media promotions, etc., to tell powerful stories and raise funds. Volunteering doesn’t mean proactively looking for strays to rescue and support. Offering your services to such organizations is also a noble way of helping homeless cats and dogs.
Adopt community strays
Desi dog and cat breeds may not be as alluring as pedigree breeds, but they’re more suited to handle the local climate and have higher immunity. They’re just as loyal too, and adopting them means letting in some extra sunshine and making room for another member of the family.
If you’re not ready to become a full-time pet parent yet, consider fostering pets until they find a forever home. Local NGOs and animal lovers will help you find the perfect home for your foster pet.
Raise awareness on cruelty
Stray animals undergo a lot of mistreatment. You can easily raise awareness about animal cruelty, understand the legal recourse available to you, and report an incident every time you see someone being cruel to animals.
It’s impossible to prevent every crime, but the least one can do is educate people regarding animal abuse laws. Stray dogs are protected under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, which contains a set of rules regarding feeding and caring for stray dogs.
Feed and care for stray animals
The pandemic forced us to stay inside, and survival became tough for strays. But as cities are opening up around the nation with precautions, you can feed a few strays to ensure their good health and survival.
It can be difficult to feed strays every day at a given time. Instead, simply leave out trays with water and food outside your house for them. Take some extra care and precaution while leaving out food for pregnant dogs and pups as they’re more vulnerable to adverse reactions. Feed them responsibly by avoiding oily and spicy food, which are harmful to them. Be careful with dairy products too as they’re not too friendly with animals’ digestive systems.
Call a vet or shelter if you see an injured animal
Caring for stray cats and dogs needn’t be through grand gestures. Contact a vet or call the nearest shelter if you notice a stray animal that’s lying sick or injured. Get help from your friends or even bystanders and take them to a clinic if possible. However, bear in mind that this is tricky as the animal is most likely frightened and is liable to approach anyone with defensiveness. The safest option is to contact animal welfare organizations who can send a trained professional to help out.
Most places don’t follow stray management practices to curb the stray animal population. There’s very little awareness on the issue, and most welfare groups lack the funding and infrastructure to spay and neuter the strays. As a result, shelters are teeming with more animals than they can manage, and they have no choice but to put these animals down.
Make a difference in any way you can. Join online communities and groups, volunteer your services to welfare organisations, raise awareness of the situation, adopt, foster, or feed strays whenever you can. Every little helps.