The budget allocation has enthused animal lovers and care giversChennai: The Tamil Nadu government has allocated Rs 20 crore in the state budget for NGOs taking care of abandoned animals and strays, a first of its kind government initiative. Finance Minister Dr Palanivel Rajan called it an an extension of social justice.”The mark of an advanced compassionate society is to be kind towards everybody. In this case I think we have reached almost middle-income status in Tamil Nadu. We thought the time is now to expand who all we care for,” said Minister Rajan, an animal lover who has adopted four strays.The minister, an animal lover, called the budget move an extension of social justiceMany hope this would help NGOs taking care of abandoned animals. They say the model should be emulated across the country.At Chennai’s Besant Memorial Animal Dispensary, Shravan Krishnan, the coordinator, rescues a variety of animals, from dogs to monkeys and horses to camels. He rescues around two thousand animals every year.His team also treats 15,000 pets a year, largely belonging to the poor and lower middle-class families. This costs two and a half crore rupees a year. Sometimes, he’s forced to refuse animals for want of money.”I think this is such a positive change and will benefit so many animals across the country. Most of the time, street animals are treated like how garbage is disposed. It’s going to help lots of animals and work in districts where there is no infrastructure like what we have,” said Mr Krishnan, who estimates only around 30 per cent of stray animals are being taken.Thirty kilometres away, along the IT corridor, Hope For Critters, a shelter, is also home for chronically ill dogs and cats that require lifetime medical care. For instance, Roco, an abused dog with head injury, and Kento, a cat Kento, an accident survivor with lost vision and amputated limbs, require lifelong care.The non-profit shelter requires two and a half lakh a month, but donations hit an all-time low amid the pandemic.Kirthana Raamsukaesh, the founder, said: “Every sentient being deserves a life with dignity and peace. In that spirit, this new scheme is sure to make a world of difference in animal rescue, rehabilitation and welfare ensuring their right to live a safe and peaceful life.”T Manoj Kumar, an animal lover and volunteer at a shelter, said: “We are really motivated by this announcement and I am sure this will motivate many such people to come forward and do whatever they can to support these voiceless pets.”Animal lovers and care givers are upbeat. They hope, in the long run, this could turn Tamil Nadu stray-animal free and make this a model worth replicating across India.