More than 25 per cent of households in Mumbai are estimated to own at least one pet. And, since the outbreak of COVID-19, there’s a feeling of isolation and anxiety in Pets.
Apoorv Kushwaha resident of Godrej Central in Chembur wrote a letter to MP Maneka Gandhi who is also an Animal Rights Activist and Environmentalist and to his society members regarding the SOPs which have been issued for Micro Containment and Containment zones. While representing lakhs of pet parents living in this city who are worried and confused about how the biological needs of their pets will be met if they are stuck in a micro-containment/containment zone.
He says, “Pets need walks for carrying out their daily essential biological tasks and also for their physical and mental wellbeing. They are also accustomed to performing their daily duties outside the house. In case they are not taken out for their walks, it impacts their health which may also entail intervention from a veterinary professional.”
Currently, co-operative societies have been given strict guidelines to prohibit any person moving in and out of the micro-containment / containment zone, and are also bound by an initial penalty of Rs 10,000 for violating the norms laid down by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Societies are suggesting to get professional help for walking the dog; however, a dog walker attracts a cost of Rs 8000-10,000 per month. The challenge with this solution is that the cost of a dog walker is not viable for the majority of the people, given the uncertainty in medical expenses people have gone conservative on cash spending.
The second challenge is that the city does not have enough dog walkers to cater to 100 per cent of the demand as these professionals are employed by just a small fraction of the total pet owners.
Apoorv further states, “I have referred to the order – Break the Chain, dated 13th April 2021, however, it does not specify any provision for this scenario and would require an intervention. Hence request authorities to please give us clarity on SOPs for pet owners residing in micro-containment/containment zones.”
We tried calling MP Maneka Gandhi, though her personal assistant refused to connect calls, added Apoorv.
“The BMC, SPCAs and other authorities must step in to do the needful and help the pet owners,” said the honorary district animal welfare officer, Mitesh Jain.
Karuna Parivar Trust’s, trustee Bhavin Ganthani told Afternoon Voice, “People may not be aware of the new GR (General Regulations), it says if you are a pet caretaker or a pet owner you can take your pet out for its routine. You can even feed the stray animals. Each cooperative housing society should be provided with this GR to avoid inconvenience to pet owners and caretakers”.
He also said, “If a society is not allowing it, police can help these pet caretakers to resolve their issues.”
Vaidehi Rele Lal, a well-known Bharat Natyam Performer says, “Dogs are getting tremendously affected by the stringent micro containment rules. If the house is COVID safe and without a case along with proper precautions the pet parent should be allowed to go down and relieve the fur babies, being a pet parent of three beautiful Indian doggies I know the importance of having a regular walk session and its emotional effect on my babies.”
“I also feed strays in my area; hence allowance to freely move and feed the strays who depend on the feeders without creating any hindrance should be rather encouraged especially during such a heatwave where animals also feel depressed or oppressed due to sudden change in the environment,” Vaidehi further added.
Mhalvika Shetty a bank employee said, “In my opinion, not taking our pets for a walk or pee is not right. Some of the pets are trained not to pee/poop in the house and they won’t do it. If a pet won’t pee/poop for a day it might cause some serious health issues. At least the pet owners should be allowed to let their pet step out of the house at least for some limited time. Making the pets pee/poop in the house is very difficult. Let the pet owners take proper precautions and take their pets for a walk or pee for some time; it won’t cause much of a problem. Let’s not make pets’ lives difficult.”
Pranali Kanade, a working woman and a Dog mom said, “When the entire building is sealed, the owners of the pet suffer a lot. For instance, my building got sealed and we are not allowed to take our pets out. My dog is trained to poop outside the building, not just mine, but a lot of pet dogs that I know are trained to do so. The authority should at least excuse the dog owners for this matter.”
Manish Sharma, an IT professional from Mumbai having many pets at home finds it very depressing to lockdown, he said, “I am going into depression looking at my pets’ miserable condition, we humans at least have TV, mobile and other things to entertain us but they don’t. Going out, taking walks, greeting their common friends, and attending nature’s call is their routine. Pets are equally emotional; our government is insensitive and the co-operative societies are one big bunch of mindless people.”
“Restrictions over taking out pets are total crap. No pet owners take their pets along with all the family members for a stroll. As such social distance is maintained when a pet accompanies because other pets don’t like a guest animal near them. We should ask authorities “Who would be responsible for the health issues cropping up if the pets’ poop and pee in the house?” says Ashwin Mane, a pet owner.