Dogs are brutally killed and cattle are maimed with impunity, but there is hardly any implementation of the laws to protect them.
Despite increased awareness about animal rights, cruelty to animals persists across the city. The recent chopping of ears of a three-month-old puppy was a horrific example of this.
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Be it a pet dog, a chicken meant for a meat shop or cattle heading for the slaughter house, all kinds of animals face innumerable sufferings at the hands of humans. Animal welfare activists list a host of problems that lead to cruelty of animals.
T.B. Somanathan of Animal Life Protection Association, said he believed the worst cruelty a community dog faced was its relocation from its original locality to another one, after undergoing a birth control procedure.
This is a problem that looms large in the city, he said. Even reputed animal welfare organisations, after completing ABC (animal birth control) surgeries, often released dogs into different neighbourhoods. Dogs that undergo the surgery are generally weak. Once they are placed in a new area, existing community dogs chase them away, and in some cases, bite them, leading to intense pain and misery. Sometimes, such attacks are fatal, Mr. Somanathan said.
In rural areas Mr. Somanadhan said, there was a different kind of cruelty inflicted upon community dogs. Here, the ABC programme is not implemented on a regular basis. Instead, the fund allocated is siphoned off and dogs are brutally attacked and killed, he said.
In a recent incident in Kanyakumari district, at least half a dozen dogs were burnt and killed under the pretext of implementing the ABC programme, and the fate of another 80 dogs is still not known. This is the case in many town and village panchayats, where dogs are brutally murdered and records manufactured to show that ABC surgeries were carried out, Mr Somanathan alleged.
G. Arun Prasanna of People for Cattle in India, who concentrates on cattle trafficking, said cattle are the worst-affected as cruelty is inflicted upon them with impunity. In several cases where his teams of volunteers have intervened, there have been at least a dozen trucks, overloaded with cattle. Often, the volunteers found the cattle forced to stand one on top of another. When the cattle refused to cooperate, their legs are broken, he said.
As per prescribed norms for transporting cattle, water and feed should be provided to them while in transit. But none of the trucks intercepted had followed this, Mr. Prasanna said. Another glaring violation is the absence of a certificate from a veterinarian before the cattle are transported from one place to another, he said.
The Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is the enforcing agency when it comes to stopping cruelty to animals. However, they face several challenges.
G. Dowlath Khan, an inspector with SPCA for the past 33 years, said outdated legal provisions, the abysmally low fine amount and a shortage of inspectors had resulted in increased cruelty towards animals of late.
While the inspectors at Chennai’s SPCA were relatively better off and drew decent salaries, the condition of those in districts is very poor. This was also one of the reasons for poor implementation of animal welfare laws in the State, Mr. Khan said.
Though there are provisions in the Prevention of Cruelties to Animals Act to punish offenders, a complainant also has to include provisions of the Indian Penal Code in order for severe action to be takes against an offender. However, since there is little awareness or interest amongst law enforcers, there is hardly any implementation of the law, he said.