Madras High Court constitutes committee to feed stray animals during lockdown

The judges also insisted that the constitution of the committee must be publicised well in the media and a separate account should be maintained if donors come forward to assist the State.

The Madras High Court on Thursday decided to constitute a committee comprising a representative from the Animal Husbandry department, the Blue Cross and other animal welfare organisations to put in place a plan of action to feed stray animals which were starving due to non-availability of food waste ever since dining was prohibited in hotels and restaurants during the ongoing lockdown to fight COVID-19.

Justice Anita Sumanth and Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy asked Government counsel R. Neelakandan to ensure that the committee meets on Friday through the virtual mode and comes up with the modalities for feeding the animals. The judges also insisted that the constitution of the committee must be publicised well in the media and a separate account should be maintained if donors come forward to assist the State.

The directions were issued following a public interest litigation petition filed by V.E. Shiva, founder of Mothers of Animal Welfare Trust based in Chennai. Replying to the case, the Animal Husbandry department agreed that the outbreak of the pandemic and measures taken by the government to control it had caused great discomfort to stray dogs, cats, cattle that were surviving on solid waste and the largesse of the society.

“With the closure of sources of food like restaurants, hotels and other eateries, these animals were found starving. This would have led to aggression and endanger the human lives or these already weak animals would have succumbed to infections,” the department said and pointed out that even horses, used for jolly rides, were starving because their owners were not making any money due to closure of beaches and other recreational places.

The Animal Husbandry department issued a call to all to animal lovers, animal welfare organisations, non governmental organisations, philanthropists and others to care for homeless dogs, cats and cattle through WhatsApp groups and circulars. Letters were also written to Collectors, Superintendents of Police and others to facilitate transportation of feed, fodder and medicines for the livestock during the lockdown.

The department also created two toll free phone numbers 1800 425 5880 and 1962 to coordinate with the animal lovers and philanthropists interested in feeding the animals. The district level officials of the department also organised food for the stray animals. The rice mill owners association donated 6,000 kg of rice and 600 kg of dhal. Several bags of dog feed and horse feed were also procured and distributed to individual feeders.

It was also brought to the notice of the court that 88 passes had been issued to animal feeders in Chennai and 100 more passes in other districts so that those individuals could move about freely during the lockdown period to feed the stray animals.

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