Mumbai: Festive revelry is often accompanied by loud noise. People burst firecrackers, play music at deafening volumes, or simply go around shouting at the top of their voice to make themselves heard above all the din. This cacophony often results in animals getting running away, losing their way, and finding themselves in unfamiliar territory.
However, now there is a ray of hope for the helpless animals. Local animal feeders have formed an intricate network with street vendors, shopkeepers, and even homeless persons and watchmen to help locate such animals and get them back to safety.
Dog feeders network on WhatsApp
Sneha Visariya, who runs a charitable trust in memory of her dog, is an animal feeder in Fort area. During the lockdown, she and other animal feeders formed a WhatsApp group called Lost Animal Fort Group to trace such animals.
Another such group called Mumbai Lost Animals has about 250 animal feeders spread across the city. Some animals are extremely territorial. Those who get lost are invariably brutally attacked by the local animals there, as food is scarce and another animal foraging for food there is not welcome. It is thus essential that these animals are back as soon as possible to the relative safety of familiar territory.
One such rescue case is of Rocky, a dog who would sit outside a cafe in Bandra. He was relocated near the Opera House in Charni Road after he bit a customer who stamped his tail.
His feeders posted about him on a whatsapp group Just Smile Charitable Trust and was found by feeders in Bora Bazaar, 17 km away from his territory. Rocky had gone from the Opera House area to which he had been relocated and reached Bora Bazaar, 3.7 km away.
Another such case is that of Tom, a dog from Horniman Circle in Fort who ran from his area during Ganesh festival and was found near Kalaniketan near Churchgate station, 2.5 km away. Visariya, who feeds him regularly, shared a post in the WhatsApp group with his photo and his last seen location. Another feeder spotted Tom near Kalaniketan and he was rescued two days after he was lost.
Animals get lost during festivals
A 38-year-old entrepreneur in waste management solutions said the cases of animals getting lost peaks to 40-50 a day during festivals and whenever there are firecrackers. At other times, there may be one such case a week. With the help of the groups, the feeders rescue approximately 60 per cent of the animals.
“When people don’t find them in their usual locations, they assume that the animal may have gone in search of food. By the time they realise that the animal is lost, it is too late,” said Visariya.
Time is crucial and the more the time that passes,the less the chance of finding the animals. “A lost animal is anxious, not mentally stable and keeps running in search of its territory, sometimes reaching too far, getting attacked or meeting with road accidents on the way,” she said, urging people to alert others on the indication that the animal may have lost its way.
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