KOLKATA: As the coronavirus has locked down people at home with their routine activities taking a tremendous hit, the predicament is the same for pet dogs who are now missing their usual walks out and, sometimes, their routine medicines.
Private pet clinics in Kolkata are providing a curtailed service while state facilities remain closed during the lockdown.
Indranil Acharya of Lake Town area needed a de-worming medicine for his golden retriever on Sunday.
As he called up a pet clinic at Dumdum in north Kolkata, where he is a regular customer, he was asked to collect it before the closure time at 12 noon.
"I badly needed the medicine. I had called up the clinic in the morning and was told it will be open only for two hours. Happy that I could make it," he said.
Acharya said he had to rush to the clinic in his car in the locked down city and reached the place after much pleading with the policemen on duty.
The number of owners of pets relying on these private facilities has gone up now as all state facilities are closed since the lockdown, said Mridul Banerjee who has a golden retriever, a spitz and a German Shepherd at his Garia home in south Kolkata.
Sailen Mitra of Amherst Street, whose pug had been under tremendous pain for urine infection, said he had to return from the outdoor of the state-run Belgachia Veterinary Hospital finding the gate locked three days back.
"I had always taken my dog to Belgachia hospital, which has very good veterinarians. But I couldn''t get him treated there this time," Mitra said.
Vice-Chancellor of West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences Chanchal Guha said, since the vet hospital is under the university, it has been closed as per the COVID-19 pandemic advisory.
He said the hospital cannot be opened without any majority decision of the executive council.
Besides the problem of getting their pets treated, the owners are also finding it difficult to walk their dogs outside during the COVID-19 time.
Dolan Das Bhowmik of Salt Lake said she had to walk her three dogs on the roof of the building thrice a day and sometimes on the courtyard.
"Naturally they are not liking the arrangement. But we can''t help it," she said.
Das Bhowmik said her neighbour is taking his dog out on the road for a brief period. "But he disinfecting the dog''s paws immediately after returning home."
But the major problem is getting medicines, dog owners said.
Many of them have posted SOS in social media sites seeking help.
A spokesman of a pet clinic in Dumdum said they are now attending to 7-8 pets on an average in two hours.
"While we used to be open throughout the day on six days in normal times, now we are forced to run a curtailed service - for two hours on every alternate day of the week, during this lockdown period. Naturally, the number of cases is high. Many essential drugs for dogs or cats are in short supply due to transportation breakdown," he said.
He said the clinic is also facing staff crunch as some of the employees are stuck at home.
"From visiting 4-5 houses on urgent calls to supply food and medicine for their pets in normal times, now the number has shot up to 15-18 households on any day during the lockdown period," said Sudipto Ghosh, who runs a pet cafe in south Kolkata''s Tollygunge area said.
He said 40 per cent among such visits are for dogs needing some urgent medical attention.
"We try to give as much service as possible. But in the present situation some stores selling pet products and medicines are closed," Ghosh said.
A spokesman from the NGO, ADF for Obola, said, while there had been clearcut direction from the Centre for keeping state-run and private pet clinics open, facilities like the Belgachia vet hospital, state-run pet clinic at New Town are closed since the lockdown began putting lives of pets at risk.