As Mumbai grinds to a halt under the relentless downpour, it’s not just the city’s human residents that find themselves in a pickle. While stray animals across the city are floundering for their lives, stranded by the rising water levels, your own animals at home may also be in danger. Extend them the same courtesy, as you would to anyone else caught out in the torrential rains.
For those of you that may happen to come across a stray cat or dog in a perilous situation, just remember that any little help you could offer them matters a great deal.
Before you rescue an animal
When you’re trying to rescue an animal, first look for any signs that it belongs to someone, like a collar. Most stray animals in residential areas tend to be pseudo-adopted by the people there, who feed them and care for them. So if the dog or cat seems to be trapped by deep water, but there’s a residential area nearby, even stopping to ask the watchman could ensure you don’t take an animal away from its familiar surroundings. But if that’s not the case, just helping move the animal to a safer location could mean all the difference.
If you can’t adopt, or even temporarily foster a rescue, try getting in touch with animal help groups like PAWS (+91- 9820161114), BSPCA (+91-22-24137518 / 24135285 / 24135434), IDA Mumbai (+91-9320056581), YODA (+91-9820952339), WSD [only dogs] (+91-22-64222838), or Cat Café Studio [only cats] (+91-22-65188883). You can find the contact numbers for other animal welfare organizations around Mumbai here.
Then again, maybe you’re in a rush and can’t afford to wait around or drive out of your way, especially considering the gridlocked traffic. In that case, Gurudwaras in Mumbai aren’t just offering shelter and food to people, they’re also willing to take in animals for the time being. So, at the very least, you can drop the critter off and call one of the above organizations to let them know. Even if they have no more space for animals, they’re likely to be willing to provide supplies to keep the animal fed during its stay at the Gurudwara. And at the very least, if you find a dog or cat shivering in the cold in your building, maybe at least spare an old bed sheet to keep them warm.
But you’ve also got to remember to take care of your own pets. Just because they’re at home doesn’t mean absolutely nothing can go wrong.
For instance, you’re not necessarily going to be able to take the days off while Mumbai drowns. Ss as you’re schlepping yourself to and from work, have a contingency plan in place just in case you find yourself stranded in the office. If your pet knows enough restraint to only eat as much as it wants for each meal, just put some extra in their bowl before you leave for work. If not, and you live alone or just with your spouse, make sure there’s a backup person to feed them. Friendly neighbours with a key to your place are good for this, especially the retired kind (trust me).
This guardian angel is also especially important if you live in a ground floor apartment. You don’t want your pet trapped inside in case the water level starts rising from under the door frame. If that’s a regular occurrence every monsoon, maybe consider moving your pets to a relative’s or friend’s house for these days.
Out for a walk
And it’s not just the amount of water that’s the problem, but how it affects your animals at home. Flooded pathways in your dog-walking route are one way your beloved puppers could pick up a skin or intestinal infection, either from other local dogs or from overturned trash cans. Pick your route carefully, or even avoid the walk if the situation is too bad. It’ll be an uncomfortable process at home, but it’s certainly possible to train dogs to do their business in the bathroom when it’s raining too hard. On top of that, make sure to use a good cleansing shampoo when bathing your pet, and towel them off well when they come in from an outdoor romp.
If you have a pet at home, odds are you already have a regular vet (if you don’t then what in damnation are you sitting around for?!), but it’s always handy to have more numbers saved in case of an emergency when your regular is out of station or inaccessible. Save a number or two for nearby vets (so you’re not panicking when you’re in a rush and the internet is down); they can also come in handy when attempting to rescue strays. In addition, BSPCA’s hospital in Parel is open 24 hours a day. They rarely have space to house rescues, but it’s a handy alternative when you have a sick pet late at night, or on the weekend.
Just remember that every little bit helps, much more than a sad-captioned Instagram photo ever could. Stay safe and keep your neighbourhood animals and pets safe, too.
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