Following the allocation of Rs 54 lakhs from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to efforts to feed community animals in five municipal corporations and all 48 municipalities of Odisha during the coronavirus lockdown, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India will present Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik with a Hero to Animals Award for his act of compassion.

In an address to the nation last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Due to the lockdown, animals are also facing trouble. I appeal to people to take care of the animals around them.” And MP Maneka Gandhi instructed those who feed community animals to keep up their work to prevent the starvation of cows, dogs, and others.

“Community animals depend on restaurant waste and handouts, so in lockdown, if they are not fed, they would starve and suffer,” says PETA India CEO Dr Manilal Valliyate. “We’re thankful to Honourable Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik Ji for allocating funds to ensure that community animals do not go hungry.”

The central government advisory body the Animal Welfare Board of India issued an advisory on 23 March urging state governments and union territories to allow the feeding of community animals by animal welfare volunteers. Another circular, issued by the central Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying on 23 March, mandated that veterinary services and animal shelters be allowed to function as normal and that veterinary services be included on the list of “essential services”.

The Chief Minister will receive a framed certificate and a letter of appreciation from PETA India. Previous recipients of PETA India’s Hero to Animals Award include Shilpa Shetty Kundra, for speaking out against the cruelty of circuses and taking other actions for animals; Delhi Minister of Food and Civil Supplies, Environment & Forests and Elections Imran Hussain, for protecting the lives of humans and animals by banning all forms of manja; Zareen Khan, for rescuing a cat from the streets; Cyrus Broacha, for refusing to perform a stunt that involved riding a bull; Rani Mukerji, for helping a dog in distress on her film set; Asin, for saving a dog who was hit by a car; Imran Khan, for stopping a dog trainer who was smacking a dog on a film set; Sadaa Sayed, for helping a puppy who had just avoided being hit by a car during a rainstorm; and Dia Mirza’s production house, Born Free Entertainment, for showing that homeless animals make wonderful additions to families.

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