: Another day, another 20 mouths for Priyanka Velpula to feed. Each day, this 24-year-old prepares 5 kg rice and chicken to feed street dogs in and around the Nagole area.
Priyanka is among one of the several animal lovers who have been moved by seeing furry four-legged creatures scouting for tidbits of food here and there during the lockdown. She ventures out every evening to drop off the meals at various spots.
“I’ve been feeding dogs for the past three years now, even before the lockdown. I feed them curd rice, chicken and dog food. I spend half of my salary on their food but the happiness and satisfaction I get are priceless,” says Priyanka, adding that feeding hungry street animals is not universally accepted yet.
The city is home to approximately 4.61 lakh street dogs. With most roadside eateries and butcher shops being closed or opened for a limited time during the lockdown, most of the street dogs, who are dependent on leftover food from eateries, are struggling to find their sustenance.
Since most of the city’s 10,269,000 residents are staying home, the dogs are more relaxed and sprawled over the streets. Yet, most of them are suffering from starvation.
People who used to feed the street dogs are not venturing out of their homes due to the pandemic, believes Shivani Raj, who has been feeding the speechless buddies every day ever since the lockdown began.
A 20-year-old Padma cooks a bucket full of rice and chicken and feeds around 30 stray dogs every day at Punjagutta. “Animals also deserve respect. Initially, I was told by neighbours not to feed the dogs as it was a nuisance, according to them. I was questioned why I was wasting so much money to feed the dogs. But, now, many have turned supportive,” she says.
In recent times, number of people coming forward to feed street dogs in different parts of the city has increased.
People for Animals, a voluntary organisation, working for animal welfare, is providing medicines for dogs that have fallen sick during the lockdown period. It also collects dog feed from good samaritans and animal lovers to mitigate their hunger.