Even as the bright and vibrant colours of Holi have started making their way into Navi Mumbai, animal lovers in the city say for the thousands of stray animals it is a horrid time.
From being doused in colours by children to having colours thrown into their eyes, keeping stray animals safe is no easy task. Animal activists and vets alike say that keeping them protected and away from mischief-makers is the only option. Some activists even care for strays until the festival is over.
Ashwini Karandikar Gadoo, a Kharghar resident, cares for five dogs and one cat.Initially, she says, there used to be a lot of fights between the residents over caring for strays, but now rather than get into a quarrel she cares for the animal herself.
“Educating and teaching children about the dangers of colours used during Holi go a long way in preventing any untoward incident. Once children understand the problems, they can ensure that adults don’t indulge in such acts,” she said.
In the past she has seen dogs and cats suffer from skin infections and even blind ness. “The lead in the colous is harmful not just for animals but for children too. The difference is animals don’t have a voice and they suffer in silence,” she added.
Dr Swaminath Dhawale, a local vet, says though awareness has reduced the number of cases, there are still instances. “Mischief-makers consider it fun. They take on strays and douse them with colours or rub their faces with the toxic materials,” he said.
Once the festival is over, animal lovers bring in the strays suffering from rashes or skin infection. “Often the dog gets blind with the quantity of colour that has been rubbed on its face. As far as possible, I tell my patients to avoid harming these animals, be it dogs, cats or any other animal,” Dr Dhawale added.
Nikita Pujari, an animal lover from Vashi, says even though children don’t understand the harm caused to animals, their parents do little or nothing to educate them.”Schools should pitch in and teach children to respect and care for animals,” she said.
In the past, she has rescued strays and got them treated. “While the number of incidents might have reduced, animal lovers as well as animals still dread the aftermath of the festival,” she said.
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Article Originally published at TOI