Falling short of standards prescribed, you may be fined or even land in prison
Maneka Gandhi has drafted a set of dog-breeding and pet-keeping rulesThey interfere with commercial breeding and full of absurdities: KCI membersThey may be either accepted or rejected at the next meeting, says AWBI secretary
CHENNAI: Moral policing seems to have gone to the dogs, literally. Imagine having to watch out for how your pet dog walks, socialises or even mates.
If Maneka Gandhi, MP and member of the Animal Welfare Board of India, were to have her way, very soon you may be subject to an Orwellian control over how you care for your dog. If you were to fall short of the standards of care prescribed, you may be fined or even land in prison.
In a recent letter sent to the Secretary of the AWBI (a copy of which is available with The Hindu ), the former Minister has drafted a set of dog-breeding and pet-keeping rules. They range all the way from ensuring that a dog in your custody should have a four-generation family tree to watching out for the pet's breeding instincts, controlling the temperature in which it is housed, the floor it walks on and how often it socialises.
Members of the Kennel Club of India, one of the oldest associations in the country, say the draft rules interfere with commercial breeding "under the guise of stopping cruelty" and will "perpetuate particular breeds or dynasties among dogs'' and leave out the mongrels, which form the large majority of the canine population in the country.
"As per the draft rules, no mongrel in the country can be given a home because it is impossible to trace its lineage," S. Pathy, chairman of the KCI, told The Hindu .
KCI members point out that the draft rules are full of absurdities. Citing one such provision "puppies produced by backyard breeders [who believe that because they have purchased a dog, it should earn back its purchase price by producing puppies or generating stud fees] will not be licensed or allowed for sale."
Lawyer R. Sasidharan asks: "If a bitch in a home mates even by accident, can that be called an offence? If I can neither sell the puppies nor find other takers, what can be done with the litter?"
The draft rules require all dog-breeding establishments to be licensed by the AWBI, which will ensure that "they reach the standards of health, welfare and accommodation to enforce the requirements of the Prevention of the Cruelty to Animals Act. [AWBI inspectors can] enter any premises in which it is believed a dog breeding business is being carried out and licence fees should be increased with the number of animals housed and sold." Violators may be punished with fines or imprisonment.
"Such rules are so absurd and intrusive that they are incapable of being implemented and will only bring in the licence raj in dog breeding and control the natural, happy life of a dog in a home," Mr. Sashidharan said.
"They introduce a whole new category of offences and virtually every dog owner may end up on the wrong side of the law," he added.
"When the PCA itself provides for action against any kind of cruelty, there is no need for a subordinate regulation. Why should the AWBI attempt to control dog breeding when it can't prevent cruelty to livestock caused by the meat trade," C.V. Sudarsan, Secretary, KCI, asked.
You may also have to obtain gadgets like thermometers and smoke detectors if you own a dog. "Houses shall not be compartmentalised except to restrict entry into areas, which may be hazardous to animals. The temperature must be maintained between 60 to 85degrees Fahrenheit at all times when the animals are present. The home must be equipped with smoke or heat detectors and must be kept free of fleas or ticks. Dogs shall not be tethered inside or outside the house."
AWBI secretary R. Balasubramanian refused to comment on the draft rules and merely said, "they will be discussed in the next AWBI meeting and may be either rejected or accepted."