India is a home to millions of dogs, including, both, pets and strays. A dog usually becomes a stray when it is deprived of human care, by abandonment or when it’s born to a stray mother. The good news is, the rate of adoption of dogs, especially strays, has been gaining momentum in recent times. Nearly sixty thousand dogs are being adopted annually. The bond between dogs and humans has grown stronger, indeed. This partnership, not just improves human health, but also helps build community; and dog laws in India have played quite a role to make this possible.
A dog, clearly, a man’s faithful companion, requires nurturing with care. Keeping a dog is not a luxury, but a great responsibility. Sadly, quite a few don’t realize this, instead, consider dogs as a nuisance. It is not uncommon to see street dogs or even pet dogs being neglected and treated cruelly by some individuals, sometimes, including their owner. Though, the protection of all animals is embodied as a fundamental duty in the Indian Constitution, yet, certain people continue to breed ignorance.
Hopefully, there are firm dog laws in India for pets and strays, to keep a check on their health and safety. Dogs, as perfect non-humans, also possess rights. Together, the fundamental dog rights and dog laws in India enable humans and dogs to live in harmony and co-exist. Additionally, aiming to protect the rights of dogs, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has laid down crucial guidelines for the pet dog owners and stray dog caregivers.
“It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment and to have compassion for all living creatures.”
-Article 51 (G) of the Indian Constitution
India has an encyclopedic set of animal protection laws, especially for dogs. In response to rise in incidents of cruelty and brutality towards animals, mainly stray dogs; abuse and neglect; and similar inhuman activities, the government of India established various animal welfare laws.
The Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860, the official criminal code of India, covers all significant aspects of criminal law. Section 428 and 429 of the IPC provides for punishment of all acts of animal cruelty such as beating, killing, poisoning, maiming or torturing.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCAA), 1960, India’s first national animal welfare law, provides for the prevention and protection of animals, from cruelty, abuse, neglect and abandonment. The PCAA, 1960, mentions different variants of cruelty to animals under Section 11, which are inclusive of the following actions:
- To beat, kick, torture and cause unnecessary pain to any animal.
- To administer an injurious/poisonous drug/medicine to any animal.
- To cage an animal in an area with no opportunity of movement.
- To keep an animal on a heavy or short chain for an unreasonable period of time.
- To carry an animal in any vehicle in a way that causes it pain and discomfort.
- To hold an animal in total and habitual confinement with no reasonable opportunity to exercise.
- Being an owner, failing to provide the pet with sufficient food, drink or shelter.
- To abandon an animal without reasonable cause.
- To willfully permit an owned animal to roam on streets or to leaving it on the streets to die of disease, old age or disability.
- To offer an animal for sale which is suffering pain due to mutilation, starvation, thirst, overcrowding or other ill-treatment.
- To mutilate or kill animals through cruel manners.
- To organize, keep, use or manage any place for animal fighting.
- To use an animal solely for entertainment.
The Animal Birth Control (Dog) Rules, 2001, enacted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, provide for sterilization and vaccination as a means of stabilizing/reducing street dog populations and eliminating the risk of rabies; and prohibits relocation of street dogs, i.e. throwing, or driving them out of one area, into another. An order passed by the Supreme Court of India in this regard, prohibits removal, dislocation or killing of all dogs.
Rights of Pet Dogs in India
- ‘Right to Bark’ is a dog’s version of ‘Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression.’ Since, dogs communicate and express their emotions by barking, society has to, patiently, put up with it. However, it is the duty of the owner to make every effort to keep his dogs quiet, particularly during night hours.
- ‘Right to a Healthy Life’: Pet dogs are entitled to a healthy, clean life, with regular vaccinations.
- ‘Right to Oh! Crap’: Just like babies, dogs need to be potty trained. But, when a pet dog defecates in public premises, the owner/caregiver is advised to clean-up. RWAs and AOAs cannot impose any fine, in such cases, but, can discuss with the owner to figure out a solution.
- Pet dogs have the right to enter lifts, elevators and parking zones. The owner cannot be banned from using lifts or elevators for his dog. In addition, use of alternate lifts, if conveniently accessible, is always recommended.
- Dog laws in India provide pet dogs with the right to use parks/gardens. Nevertheless, pet dog owners have to strictly follow specific dog hours mentioned in timings of certain parks/gardens.
Personal Tip: I find it wise to keep pet dogs on a leash in public places, as it ensures their safety, especially, from being run over by vehicles, or worse still, being the cause of accidents. It also assures the safety of the passers-by; and makes them more comfortable when the dog is on the leash.
Guidelines For All Dog Owners & Caregivers
If you are a dog owner or care for stray dogs, you ought to know these guidelines to save the dogs and yourself from any kind of harassment.
- The High Court passed an order asking the police to provide protection to dogs and dog feeders and has made it a punishable offence in case anyone restricts, prohibits or causes inconvenience to any person feeding a stray dog or resorts to removal, dislocation or killing a dog.
- SECTION 503 and 506: Indian Penal Code 1860, provides that intimidation is a criminal offence, which is cognizable. Anyone who threatens or intimidates any person taking care of dogs is liable for criminal intimidation under section 503 of Indian Penal Code and can be arrested without a warrant.
- I.P.C. Section 428 and 429 provides severe punishment (up to 5 years’ imprisonment) to people resorting to dislocation, abduction, and acts of cruelty towards community animals or pets.
- Delhi Police Act 1968, Section 73 to 79, 99, gives special powers to police to take action when an animal offence has been committed.
- Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, makes all animal cruelty a criminal offence.
- Under Stray Dog Management Rules 2001, it is illegal for an individual, society, Residents’ Welfare Association (RWA), Apartment Owners Association (AOAs) or any estate organization to remove or relocate dogs. The dogs have to be sterilized and vaccinated and returned to the same area. Vaccinated and sterilized dogs cannot be removed by the municipality too.
- Ministry of Public Grievances’ notification and a similar notification by Animal Welfare Board of India provides immunity to animal feeders and restrict government employees or bodies such as Resident Welfare Associations societies from harassing people who feed or help animals.
- The Supreme Court of India gave a similar stay order against removal, culling or dislocation of a dog anywhere in India.
“Anybody can make a difference and be a voice for the voiceless.”
DO THIS WHEN YOU WITNESS CRUELTY TO STRAY/PET DOGS
- An abused animal may need immediate veterinary care. So, initially, contact any Animal hospital (Government/Private Veterinary hospital) to provide relief to the suffering dog.
- Complain to the local state SPCA (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals/Animal Welfare Organizations/NGOs.
- Contact the Police/Magistrate directly with a written complaint.
- Record the crime in Image/Video.
- Raise awareness about Animal Welfare Organizations in your area and learn the Laws.
DID YOU KNOW–
The Animal Welfare Board of India issues IDs to those who regularly feed stray dogs; these individuals/groups are generally termed as ‘Dog Feeders’ and are protected by stringent laws.