A pet has to be tolerated by society: Law
With apartment complexes becoming the norm and more and more activists and residents actively engaging in taking care of their pets and stray dogs, it becomes important for people to understand their duties, rights, and responsibilities for the welfare of their pets and their neighbours. â€‹Residents often find letters taped to their apartment’s notice boards that delegate laws related to pet dog owners, residents, pets, street dogs, and end up submitting to it mostly because they’re unaware of the by-laws or guidelines already in place.
Guidelines for the ones who take care of street dogs
Now there are many who take care of the ownerless, stray dogs selflessly – they often feed them leftovers or prepare food for them, offer them warm dog clothes in winters and silently take care of them. Even if the Indian Constitution advises peaceful coexistence among all creatures and lists it as one of our Fundamental Duties [Article 51(g)] to show compassion to all living creatures, things are not as simple as they look! â€‹To let you know what by-laws are in place, I have rounded some guidelines passed by the Animal Welfare Board of India: Those who take care of street dogs are also advised to participate in their sterilization and to assist animal welfare organizations in taking good care of their health.â€‹ Care-givers are advised not to feed street dogs near residences that do not belong to them, places immediately adjacent to areas in which children play, areas in which people take walks or in places that are generally crowded. Care-givers cannot be forced to control the defecation habits of strays but are advised to participate in it.â€‹ They are also advised to keep a record of sterilization of dogs and share the information with residents.
Guidelines for pet dog owners living in society apartmentsâ€‹
Pet owners often find themselves in conflict with other residents in a society when it comes to their pets. To clarify, here are some guidelines for pet owners and other residents of the society:â€‹ Pet owners rightly can consider their pets as family members but they have to ensure their pets don’t cause inconvenience to others. â€‹No Residents’ Welfare Association has a right to ban residents from keeping pets in their apartments, not even by getting a majority vote in the society with help of other tenants or residents. Doing so is a violation of the law. Barking, which is a natural form of expression of a dog, has to be tolerated in a society. Pet owners must make an effort to keep their dogs quiet, especially during night hours.â€‹ If pet owners abide by the municipal laws regarding pets then no civic body has a right to ban pets or their owners from the society. No pets can be banned from lifts. No ban or special charges can be imposed on pet owners for using lifts with their pets.â€‹ Leashing the dog is advisable (but not compulsory) when the dog is taken out for walks. It will make people around feel safe. Leashing also ensures safety of the pet from being run over by vehicles.â€‹ Even if Residents’ Welfare Association cannot impose fine on any pet owners who do not clean their pet’s excreta, they can request pet owners to clean up after their dogs defecate in order to maintain cleanliness in the society.
Court acknowledges dignity of animals
A single judge bench of India’s Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that the “entire animal kingdom including avian and aquatic” species has a “distinct legal persona with corresponding rights, duties, and liabilities of a living person.” Judge Rajiv Sharma ruled: “all the citizens throughout the State of Haryana are hereby declared persons in loco parentis as the human face for the welfare/protection of animals,” implying that citizens have legal responsibilities and functions similar to those of a parent vis-à-vis minor children for the welfare and protection of animals. The court arrived at the decision in a criminal revision petition filed by individuals convicted of unlawfully exporting cows from Haryana under Section 4B of the Punjab Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act, a statute applicable to both Punjab and Haryana. The judge upheld the conviction of the accused but did not mete out a prison sentence, saying that the accused “are suffering agony and trauma by facing criminal proceedings for about 15 years.” Haryana police arrested the convicts in 2004. “All animals have honour and dignity. Every species has an inherent right to live and is required to be protected by law. The privacy and the rights of animals are to be respected and protected from unlawful attacks,” the judge said. The judgment relies on jurisprudence from India’s Supreme Court, which had ruled in Animal Welfare Board of India vs. Nagaraja that the right to dignity and fair treatment as enshrined in and arising out of Article 21 of India’s Constitution is “not confined to human beings alone, but animals as well.” The court issued several “mandatory directions” for the “welfare of the animal kingdom” in Haryana. It directed the state government to ensure that draft animals do not carry loads exceeding prescribed limits, and to ensure that no animal carries a weight or load in excess of the weights prescribed by regulations such as the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Transport of Animals on Foot) Rules. Furthermore, the state government is to ensure that weight carried by an animal is reduced by 50 percent if the route traversed involves an ascent exceeding the limit prescribed by the court. For this purpose, the court ruled that a gradient over 3 meters per 30 meters triggers the threshold. No more than four people, excluding the driver and children below six years of age, are allowed to ride an animal-drawn vehicle. No person is permitted to keep or cause to be kept in harness any animal used for drawing vehicles where the temperature exceeds 99°F or is below 41°F. The court held that the use of sharp equipment to brutalize animals is banned throughout the state of Haryana “to avoid bruises, swelling, abrasions or severe pain to the animal.”