Updated: July 21, 2021 11:22:30 am
Every day since the pandemic restrictions came into effect, a handful of volunteers in Sahakarnagar area of Pune have been feeding nearly 1,500 stray dogs in the area. This crowd-funded activity will continue to ensure that the animals don’t go hungry, said Aniket Satav, an active volunteer of the area.
The pandemic had also hit stray animals, who depend on leftovers from hotels, restaurants and handcarts, or food given by good Samaritans for their meals. That’s when these volunteers, working under the banner of Pune Animals, stepped up.
“We have been taking care of stray animals since the last 7-8 years, in and around our area. When the lockdown started, we realised our furry friends will face a lot of difficulties,” said Satav.
Aided by crowd-funding activities, the volunteers drew up a plan to serve food to stray dogs on a daily basis. Rice, dal and chicken were to be cooked in large quantities and volunteers would carry the same to feed the dogs in their areas.
“Most volunteers know the strays who stay in their areas. Previously, we have carried out vaccination and sterilisation drives among these animals,” said Satav.
What had started as a small drive in Sahakarnagar soon saw volunteers spreading to nearby areas like Arayaneshwar, Tilak Road,Swargate, Mukundnagar and others. Currently, the group feeds 1,400-1,500 animals on a daily basis. Every day, around 60 kg of rice and 50 kg of chicken is cooked together to feed the stray dogs.
“All of us contribute for this, be it in cash, or in grains… this is a cause that is close to our heart,” said Satav.
Other than Satav, the active members include Sagar Mhaske, Karan Baldwa, Kajal Gujar, Hitanshu Malani, Shlok Agarwal, Nikhil Kothalkar, Santosh Deshpande, Abhishek Yenpure,Rohit Naik, Yogesh Sonavane, Hrishikesh Chaudhari, Aalok Gokhale, Rupali Mahalunge, Soham Bamane, Rohit Sonawane, Madhura Avachat, Yashodhan Gadkari, Mayur Naik, Sahil Kulkarni, Aditya Phalke, Avanti Rahalkar, Aishwarya Abhyankar and Dilip Ranawat.
However, stray animals often give rise to conflicting emotions, with some sections of society deeming them a menace. Asked if they had faced opposition from local residents while feeding stray dogs, Satav admitted that a small section of people had opposed them. “However they are a minority and compared to the large section of people who have supported us, their number is small,” he said.
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