Animal control near Cleveland, Tennessee

80000 plus - that’s the number of street dogs in Chennai by the most conservative of estimates, some like Wikipedia put this number at 185000. But there is no debate on how they have been affected by the shutdown.

…They are confused, and they are starving.

When you turn off your lights tonight, happy for having navigated through yet another day without social contact, it is exactly this: social contact that the free-ranging street animals of the world count on for their daily sustenance. 

The lockdown has been disproportionately harsh on them as humans have retreated and restaurants, roadside eateries, and tea shops have shut, leaving the 'streets' no option but to scavenge their last refuge - the quintessential garbage bins of Chennai. But the plot thickens. Our flash survey revealed something worse than anything we imagined. With people hibernating, even the garbage bins were no longer abundant.

Starving, confused, restless, and moving outside their territories searching for food and water, competition intense for the limited food, fighting and cowering, a cocktail of primal fear and basic instinct - a struggle for survival.

Blue Cross of India - for 56 years the voice for the voiceless - a household name in Chennai, amongst the oldest and arguably the largest and most well-known animal welfare organization in India stepped in to reverse the tide.

With processed food in short supply, our kitchen runs without a break now to cook as many fresh meals as possible every hour of every day. Running to full capacity, yet unable to keep up with so many hungry 'street' we have now sought kitchen capacities from a few large hotels to cook as many more meals as possible.

The Bravehearts of our out-door teams drive to and walk the streets feeding animals and distributing food to a network of community feeders. Teams such the one featured in this news article with volunteers like Neelagandan cover feeding in the worst-hit non-residential areas like the marina, industrial estates, and gated office complexes, while other teams drive on different routes to cover far corners to deliver food to our 'last mile' - a network of community feeders, who complement us in what is emerging as one of the best examples of deep community participation in a crisis of unprecedented magnitude. 

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