Recently, 200 stray dogs were killed in Bangalore to free the city of the ‘dangerous’ animal. And over 1,300 were captured in five days. This drive was a backlash of two children being mauled to death by street dogs. But, who was the real villain here? The ‘dangerous’ dogs or WE?
Millions of stray animals live on the streets of India and some form dangerous feral packs that often attack people. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), India has nearly 80 per cent of the world’s rabies fatalities, and the largest reservoir of the disease are dogs. Obviously, they are ‘dangerous’. But, are we that innocent? What makes them attack us? Whenever we spot a stray animal, we hit, stone and even kill them.
This compels them to attack us. Moreover, we have no control over garbage disposal, which acts as an incentive for these animals, as they find food near these garbage dumps. Very few of them are fed and taken care of by residential communities. The rest wander in the streets. We also fail in taking steps for our own protection. Animal Birth Control (ABC) Programme is implemented by few municipalities. When measures are taken, enforcements go awry, and drive becomes overdrive (like in Bangalore).
So, what can we do?
We should warn the person torturing the animals about the laws. If the offender does not obey the laws, we may launch a FIR at the closest police station. And if an area’s municipality kills homeless dogs, we may complain to the municipality commissioner about it. The Animal Welfare Board of India has developed a set of guidelines for municipalities to implement the ABC (or catch/spay/neuter/vaccinate and release) programme. We can urge the animal welfare organisation in the area to take it up. Or, we can help these animals by feeding them (even the left-overs from our everyday meals), taking an injured animal to a veterinary or simply by not shooing them out of our colonies.
But, when it is a matter of life and death of people, where do we draw the line between our safety and their survival?
It is against the law to:
Give animals any injurious substance, or poisoned food.
Transport them in a manner that may cause them unnecessary suffering. Like, loading cows into trucks without ramps and overcrowding the vehicle as well as tying up pigs and carrying them on cycles. All violations of Section 11 are punishable with a fine of Rs 100 and/or up to three months in jail.
To kill homeless animals. Municipality must maintain an animal pound. Failure to follow the Animal Welfare Board of India’s code of conduct for municipalities can invite contempt of court proceedings.
To maim or cause injury to any animal with a monetary value greater than Rs. 10 under sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code.
To throw acid on cows (something that vegetable sellers do as a matter of routine).
To purposefully injure or kill dogs, cats and cows on the street. Offenders can be reported to the local animal protection group and police station. Punishment is a fine of Rs. 2000 and/or a jail term of up to five years.
To use them for research. The Rules for Experimental Animals, as formulated by the Committee for the Control and Supervision of Experimental Animals, state that only animals bred for the purpose of research by institutes registered by the Committee may be used for experimentation. It is illegal for any medical, educational or commercial research institute to pick up stray animals from the street or from the municipal pound for this purpose.