Make Diwali Animal-friendly

Activists suggest giving shelter to strays or building a temporary refuge, bursting crackers on terrace and sensitising people

Published: 20th October 2014 06:06 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th October 2014 06:06 AM   |  A+A-

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BANGALORE: As awareness grows about noise pollution during Diwali, attention is now being drawn to the plight of voiceless animals on our streets.

Even pets who live within the safe confines of homes are traumatised by cracker bursting. Veterinary doctors attribute the trauma to the fact that animals can register sounds even inaudible to the human ear.

Dr Pawan Kumar of Cessna LifeLine Veterinary Hospital says, "I get cases of street animals who have been injured in accidents during Diwali night. Tormented by the fumes, noise of crackers et al, they run around looking for a place to hide and get mowed by vehicles. Pets at home have a better time as they hide in cupboards and under beds. Drugs like alprazolam and acepromazin can be given in consultation with a vet to calm them down. Those who can afford it can take their pets out of town to pet- friendly resorts."

At Aaskar Pet Resort near Varthur (www.aaskar.com), occupancy is full as many owners have booked a space for their pets to spend Diwal night away from the din.

Sudhakar Babu, the owner says, "We get calls from people who cannot deal with the demands of kids wanting to burst crackers and the trauma of their pets. So they leave their pets with us during the duration of the festival. We recommend that pets be dropped with us a day before the festivities begin so that they are with us much before the roads get noisy."

Writer and food entrepreneur Sonya Balasubramanyam has three dogs at home and spends every Diwali with them because leaving them alone is out of the question.

Says she, "It is a time of pure torment for my dogs and I put them first because they are family. Even though it would be nice to go out and meet friends, I stay at home to comfort them and worry about the strays on my street especially because people can be wilfully cruel. I don't use sedatives to calm my dogs because one of them is very old and the other has heart and kidney problems. We just wait for the noise to get over."

Jessica Jerusha, an animal activist who runs a hostel for pets and has 27 dogs and 20 cats living with her says, "It is impossible to put a stop to cracker bursting. Festivals have a tremendous emotive value for people but the least they can do is to be a little compassionate. So instead of bursting crackers on the road where strays can and do get injured, you can do it on the terrace. If you are lighting up rockets there, atleast those will not fall into trees and hurt birds."

At home, her dogs cuddle up together for comfort and she says, "On the streets, dogs and cats have a tough time and they usually try to find quiet corners to hide. Not that it helps. So many of them get injured or burnt." Even though Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, say activists, states that causing distress and physical harm to animals is a punishable offence, the revellers go on regardless.   

Yasmine Claire who has six dogs and 15 cats at home has a few tips for those who want to watch out for animals at home and in the neighbourhood. She says, "At home, just act normal around the pets. If you do not make much of the noise around, they too will calm down. Play music, talk to them, put the TV on. And check your street after the revelry just in case an animal is hurt and needs help."

The other day, two kittens were picked up and taken to Simba's Run, a shelter she oversees in Betehalasuru, because they would not have survived the Diwali onslaught.

She says, "At Simba's Run, we have limited space but we take in animals who are in obvious danger. We try to find foster homes for these animals, medical care and homes for life."

Activists also suggest the building of temporary shelters on Diwali night to provide relief to the stray population. They also say that parents have to sensitise their children to not target animals or tie crackers on their tails just for fun.

Achala Pani of Let's Live Together advises pet owners to not tie dogs in gardens and keep a watch on them as animals in a state of panic tend to run away. "Diwali is the time when maximum number of pets are reported lost, " she says and adds, "And if you do not burst crackers, give shelter to a stray animal for the duration of the festivities."

If you see animals in distress, call Voice of Stray Dogs at-800-3010-1901

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