Winter has arrived, and as we snuggle into our blankets and jackets, our furry friends on the streets have no option but to suffer through the cold. So some Delhiites have taken up the task to lend some warmth to the stray cats and dogs this season.

Waterproof dog beds for strays are being made out of jute bags by some Delhiites.

Waterproof dog beds for strays are being made out of jute bags by some Delhiites.

Nothing better than a warm bedding in winter

Priya Chopra, a resident of Safdarjung in Delhi, was out for a stroll, when she realised that she needed to provide a degree of comfort to stray dogs in the harsh Delhi winters. “I can wear a sweater, but they can’t,” says Chopra, who feeds 240 dogs daily. To make winters better for strays, she started sourcing jute bags, filled them with waterproof thatch so that it retains warmth throughout the night and provided these as beds across Delhi. “Near railway stations, bus stands, SDA market… Many people have reached out to me to buy some beds for strays in their area, and it warms my heart to know that people are now more conscious about the voiceless,” she adds.

No warmth on an empty stomach

Many denizens have been working for the cause of strays for several years, as Delhi breaks new records every winter. Sanjay Mohapatra, founder of House of Stray Animals, a Noida-based NGO, says they are trying to raise awareness in people so that they can take care of strays. “Every year we collect sweaters and jackets for dogs, and distribute them across Delhi-NCR. We also ask people to donate both wet and dry food rations. Even a few biscuits to the stray dogs and cats, with warm milk, can help them fight the winter,” adds Mohapatra.

Recycled containers are also being used by some Gurugrammer, to provide a comfy temporary shelter to strays.

Recycled containers are also being used by some Gurugrammer, to provide a comfy temporary shelter to strays.

Temporary shelters: Need of the hour

Staying on the road during cold nights is tough for humans, leave apart cats, dogs and other animals. So a temporary home can go a long way to help save their lives. “I used cardboard boxes, insulated them with paper, foil and bedsheets and made a small opening in each for the kitties to get in and snuggle,” says Yashita Jhurani, a Delhiite who has modelled these temporary shelters for stray cats in her neighbourhood.

A Gurugram resident, Jagjit Singh, put his mind to work for the strays during the lockdown. Singh says, “I love dogs, and this year I finally used a wooden fibre recycled container, pasted mattresses inside it, and made it water-resistant to act as a temporary shelter for the strays. I have so far given out 200 such shelters, free of cost, across Delhi. I don’t want any dog to sleep in the cold simply because their caretaker couldn’t afford this!”

“Winters or not, fostering is always important. But the cold drastically cuts down the chances of survival for sick or weaker animals.” – Shriya Garg, a Gurugrammer

Foster when you can

Animal lovers say fostering strays, especially young ones, is imperative during winter. Shriya Garg, a Gurugram-based entrepreneur who has been fostering stray cats that she rescues, says, “Winters or not, fostering is always important. But the cold drastically cuts down the chances of survival for sick or weaker animals. The government and NGOs do not have enough shelters or rescue programs in place, which means we have to step up and be the change. Fostering saves lives, and is the least one can do to support the strays; they didn’t choose to be out on cold concrete.”

Author tweets @bhagat_mallika

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