In Kashmir, Pet and Cattle Owners Left to Fend for Themselves

The district Veterinary Hospitals are ill-equipped to deal with the increase in the number of pets in the valley.

Jammu & Kashmir: As the COVID 19 Pandemic engulfed the world, many turned to animals for comfort and companionship. The demand for adopting or fostering pets, particularly dogs, has risen worldwide, from Canada to India.  The relative search volumes (RSV) on Google trends database showed an increase in the search terms in the categories of pet adoption (“adopt a pet,” “pet adoption near me,” “adoption center”), dog adoption (“dog adoption,” “puppy adoption,” “dogs for adoption near me”), and cat adoption (“cat for adoption,” “kittens for adoption,” “cats for adoption near me”).  The RSV ranked highest in Delhi, followed by Telangana.

Like other states, Kashmir also saw a steep increase in the number of pet owners. The COVID-19 pandemic along with the mental toll of the conflict has pushed many Kashmiris towards owning pets. Nowadays it is hard to miss the pet supplies stocked in the numerous departmental stores in the valley. The scales are more tilted towards cats than dogs while buying or adopting a pet. The number of breeders selling show quality cats has also seen a rise, especially on the social media. To overcome regular supply issues, many breeders started pet breeding in the valley itself.

While on one side, people are warming up to the idea of owning pets there is a dearth of proper veterinary care in the valley. The district Veterinary Hospitals are ill-equipped to deal with the increase in the number of pets in the valley. Traditionally the veterinary hospitals in the valley have catered to livestock and lack amenities to cater to a growing pet population. Recently a Twitter user had tweeted to the DC Anantnag complaining about the lack of vaccines for his cats. He tweeted, “Today I visited Veterinary hospital Ang as my pet’s vaccine was scheduled but due to the non-availability of vaccines in hospital, we couldn’t proceed with it. This has not happened for the first as this hospital even lacks basic pet care facilities.” Another user added, “It gets really difficult for us to bring our pets to Srinagar for just a small vaccine dose.” Pet owners are forced to travel to the capital city of Srinagar to get routine vaccinations.

600 animals died due to outbreak of foot & mouth disease in Kashmir

Recent reports state that close to 600 animals have died and 18000 are infected due to the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in domestic animals in Kashmir valley and the situation has worsened due to the non-availability of vaccine. Apart from lacking basic medicines and vaccination, there are virtually no animal ambulances in the valley. Many veterinary doctors have opened their private clinics to fill the vacuum created by the lack of government facilities. These clinics provide almost all the care facilities to the animals but many are located in the capital. It is not feasible to carry the pets from other districts to these clinics.

The furry friends have provided comfort to a distressed many and it is high time that the conditions of these hospitals are looked into.

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