The initial rumours surrounding the Coronavirus led many people to abandon their pets in fear of catching an infection. While the rumours were later rubbished by the World Health Organisation and eminent medical professionals, the damage had been done.
For example, Maharashtra witnessed hundreds of pets being left on the roads by panic-stricken people, and the state health minister had to appeal to pet owners to not abandon them. A similar situation was also observed in Bhubaneswar.
But things truly took a turn for the worse when the lockdown was announced. With food joints shut down, and people off the streets, stray animals across India are starving.
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Which is why it is heartwarming to see volunteers taking up the responsibility of feeding them, even during this panic-stricken atmosphere.
50-year-old Jotvinder Singh (Jojo), who runs Woof Yums, a New-Delhi based dog food service that offers fresh, home-cooked meals for pets, is among these selfless humans who feed over 100 dogs in his neighbourhood.
A journey of feeding a hundred dogs begins with one
Jojo and his spouse used to own a design studio to sustain their family. Once their kids grew up and pursued their own careers, Jojo took the opportunity to start something he was very passionate about—feeding dogs.
“Most dogs are given highly processed food recommended by vets that may earn some commission from the companies. But, the fact is that they live longer—and healthier—lives when they consume fresh food,” Jojo shares with The Better India (TBI). He was a pet parent himself until his dog was euthanized due to serious ailments about 7 years ago.
In 2014, he started Woof Yums, a fresh food company exclusively for pet dogs. Things were going well until one encounter added a branch to its operations. Jojo met a young stray dog who had a missing tongue.
“When I enquired about this abnormal phenomenon, I discovered something chilling. A security guard had hit the dog so horribly on the head that the dog had bit its tongue hard and sliced it off. Imagine the plight of the dog who by nature picks up food and water with its tongue to not be able to do it again,” the 50-year-old shares.
The entrepreneur fostered this stray and started making soupy foods, feeding him regularly. One thing led to another and Jojo soon adopted over 300 such neighbourhood strays.
“There are many stray feeders across Delhi who take time out of their lives for these animals, and one common issue that they face is sustained food supply. To help them, I make home-cooked meals for such strays too and charge the feeders only for the ingredients,” Jojo shares.
100+ Delhi strays stay well fed during the lockdown
Jojo shares that he prepares a mixture of chicken, stock and rice for the dogs to feed them once a day. His kitchen has been preparing over 100 portions of 500 gms each daily.
“The aim is to keep them fed but not turn them dependent on human help. Once the lockdown is lifted, these dogs must go back to searching for and hunting their own food. But since the offices and restaurants are shut and this being the puppy season, we are happy to provide a helping hand for their survival.”
Ranjana Singhal, who feeds Woof Yums’ food to about 70 stray dogs tells TBI, “My own dog is a fussy eater and does not touch the plate if she dislikes the taste. But Jojo’s recipes are her favourite and she gobbles the food up within minutes. Even the strays seem to love it!”
Delhi is home to about 1.9 lakh stray dogs—most of whom must be suffering terribly during the lockdown. It is therefore commendable that volunteers like Jojo and Ranjana are taking the responsibility to ensure they don’t starve in this period.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)