Pune dog lovers rescue pets abandoned due to coronavirus fears

Pune: Dog lovers in Maharashtra’s Pune city have come to the rescue of pets, especially dogs of foreign breeds, who have been abandoned by their owners over misplaced fears of contracting coronavirus infection from them.

Over 50 volunteers from Animal Adoption and Rescue Team (AART) have been patrolling the streets of Pune, looking to rescue abandoned pets and feeding strays during the COVID- 19 lockdown.

“Since the lockdown was imposed, we have seen a rise in cases of dog owners abandoning their pets, especially those of imported breeds such as Dobermans, Labradors and German Shepherds,” said Ajay Pujar, one of the volunteers of the NGO.

The organisation had so far rescued over 40 such dogs from different parts of the city and sent them to shelter homes in the outskirts of Pune, he said.

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Many dog owners were abandoning their pets over misplaced fears and misconceptions that coronavirus infection was transmitted from animals, he said.

“Another reason for this phenomenon is that several pet owners, including students, have left the city because of the pandemic, leaving the animals behind,” he added.

After the lockdown was imposed, the organisation had received a call from a housing society, where some students had returned to their hometowns, leaving their two dogs locked in their flat.

“We rescued the dogs who were left behind without any food or means to survive,” he said.

Abandoning pets had become a common phenomenon during the health crisis, said Vineeta Tandon, who heads the organisation.

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“As abandoning pets is a crime, dog owners don’t call shelter homes directly and instead leave these canines tied to gates of dog shelters or abandon them in areas where they know strays are fed regularly,” she said.

The health ministry has clarified that coronavirus cannot be transmitted from dogs and cats to humans, said Tandon, who runs a shelter home in Kharadi area.

The organisation has so far rescued dogs of 23 foreign breeds since the lockdown, she added.

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