With conflicting reports on animals being coronavirus carriers doing the rounds, people have started abandoning their pets in Uttar Pradesh.
A Pomeranian and a golden retriever were seen on Sunday in the Chinhat area, wailing and looking lost.
Chinhat is located on the outskirts of Lucknow on the Lucknow -Ayodhya highway.
"The highway is extremely busy in normal times but thankfully the road was deserted or else the dogs would have been run over. I gave them some biscuits and waited for some time to see if their owners come looking for them. When I started walking away, the two dogs began following me," said Pramila Thakur, a local resident.
She posted photographs of the dogs on her friends' WhatsApp group and one of them volunteered to adopt the Pomeranian.
She has given the Golden Retriever to the watchman of a tiles' factory nearby and also some money to look after the dog till she finds a home for him.
Pramila is a widow who lives alone and said that she cannot take care of the dog without any domestic help.
In Banda, a local businessman admitted to this correspondent that he had 'abandoned' his pug after reports that dogs could be corona carriers.
"The family is very depressed after the dog went away but I have three grandchildren and cannot risk their health. The dog was two years old and I am sure someone will take care of him," he said.
A report by the World Organization for Animal Health says, "The current spread of COVID-19 is a result of human to human transmission. To date, there is no evidence that companion animals play a significant role in spreading the disease. Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare."
The Animal Welfare Board of India, a government advisory body, also issued this letter - posted on Twitter by MP Maneka Gandhi - to chief secretaries throughout India urging them to take steps to prevent the abandonment or abuse of animals out of unwarranted fear.
PETA India's webpage offers further guidance on this issue.
It says, "Community animals - including dogs, cats, cows, and buffaloes - are reliant on the mercy of kind people who give them food and water."
PETA also appealed to the people not to abandon pets.