Changing behaviour of streeties during the lockdown
The behaviour of streeties is changing during this lockdown. Streeties rely very heavily on humans for food, both coming from feeders, as well as waste from eateries and garbage. With most eateries closed and humans not getting out, it is disorienting streeties as well as driving them to starvation. But during this grim time, streety feeders are a ray of hope. The government of India has declared feeding of streeties as an essential service and political leaders are appealing the people to step up to their responsibility of taking care of these animals. But the dogs still need to get used to this new situation and this is an account of Bismi Anil, one of the most dedicated streety feeders of Bangalore.
Street dog feeding experiences during first 2 weeks of lock down....
Days 1,2,3 were mostly trailing the sleeping Hachikos in front of hotels/carts/shops waiting for their humans to come and feed them. We met several dogs who were hungry but was surprised that their food was coming from some where else. Most quietly ate and went back to their places. Some refused to touch , some searched for their families humans , some couldn’t believe all this is happening.
Days 4,5,6 started bringing out the dogs who usually have specific areas to forage. With the eateries closed and most garbage dried or cleared out, they suddenly found the food sources missing . There was panic , suspicion and distrust. Most gobbled up the food quickly and wanted more to fill stomach as much as possible. The menu didn’t matter any more.
Days 6,7,8 - we could here more and more dogs barking everywhere . It was literally like calling out for food. They could smell the food and if not given , barked and called out and asked for food. Panic as evident. Fights were rampant. Everyone wanted to eat all they could, not allowing anyone else to eat. Those who get fed from day 1 were calmer and behaving well, knowing they get some thing to curb hunger.
Day 9 , 10 - saw most of the home dogs coming out. These are those who are on the streets but attached themselves to particular dwellings and were living happily off the scraps, which people used to put out. They had no clue why they are not finding food . They came out in packs , searching and fighting . We saw many frozen in fear but was ready to risk the bite for a bit of food. It was one of the days when we had lots of extra food as well.. they gulped and gulped , drank water , soup , ate dry food. Whereever we passed by but didn’t stop , they chased non stop , stopped the car and gobbled up in seconds . It was an eating frenzy as these dogs were never been subjected to such a situation. Once eaten, they quickly disappeared.
Day 11 onwards - Dogs have become smarter . They didn’t differentiate between kibble or fresh food. If a pack is eating , the frail ones stood far away and subtlety called out for food. The ones locked up in tech parks found ways to jump out. The risk of getting injured was big and everyone was getting something to eat, so fights reduced. Last Sunday was peaceful, more and more people have come out and fed many dogs. From kibble to veg biryani to chicken biryani it fresh cooked food , lot of variety of food had been provided to the dogs. 50-60% of the usual ones wanted only petting. Those who came to eat also ate less ,most looked content.
While there was no food available on day 1-2 , it was heart warming to see people left out what ever they could along with water as lock down progressed . The big tech parks have kept multiple containers with water. Security guards ate half of their food and gave the other half happily to the animals. Feeding stabilised and despite all fears, more feeders have come out too to take care of animals .
But all through this, one thing was very clear. The dogs missed their humans , the love they used to get. They tried to cling on to the locations where any human was available. They kept asking where are their people and would they return. Most humans we found on many spots also were accommodating thankfully , reducing the emotional stress on streeties.
Every night we come back dead tired but heart filled with joy. We also went back and connected to some dogs which were feeding long time back but weaned off as other food sources were identified for them and had a happy reunion. The down side is that our expenses have skyrocketed. The number of dogs stands some where between 350-400 . We have received contributions from lot of friends and our communities but still need a lot of support to sustain this during the lock down period.
Our trust account details are below to contributions. Dumas Animal welfare trust. A/C NUMBER : 34415347043. IFSC :SBIN0012663. CURRENT ACCOUNT. BANK: STATE BANK OF INDIA, RAMAGONDANAHALLI.
And here is a video of happy dogs.
Note: for time being and since people are absent, and managing unknown dogs is taking time, we are feeding them at their locations and clean up afterwards . they don’t leave even a single grain out , so that’s also helping to maintain neatness.
Bismi is a IT professional turned animal welfare activist. As result of her interactions with hundreds of pets and closely studying their dietary habits, she has ended up establishing Duma's Bakes n Meals, which not only provides sells a special meal for streeties, but also provides freshly cooked meals and goodies for pet dogs.
Bismi is also one of the founder of Dumas Animal Welfare Trust which support animal welfare operations in Whitefield and neighboring areas. In recognition of her efforts towards social work and animal welfare activities, Bismi was awarded C.J.Memorial Community Guardian Award, voted as Bangalore's "Most Wanted for the Year 2015" by Radio Red FM in 2015, etc. Her work has been featured in various media publications like Femina, Times of India, DNA India, Bangalore Mirror, Better India, Deccan Chronicle, HeadsUp for Tails, www.caninetherapy.co.uk, Live Mint, Asian Age, Leap Magazine etc. Her work has also been featured on Television channels like NDTV, News 18 etc.
Revenues from DumasBakesnMeals also help fund animal welfare activities.