Stray-dog menace in Kozhikode has been an issue for over 120 years. Even the British had to resort to extreme measures to contain the stray canines on the then Calicut Municipality’s public streets.

A court order found at the Kozhikode Regional Archives dated April 2, 1883, signed by the then District Magistrate W. Logan, warns dog owners against letting their pet dogs stray into the streets.

The order, issued under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (power to issue order in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger), says “several mad dogs have been found lately straying on the public streets within the limits of Calicut Municipality to the serious danger of the public.”

The Magistrate then orders all dog-owners and caretakers to keep their dogs away from the streets for a period of two months from April 10, 1883. Mr. Logan cautions that those who violate this order will be “liable to suffer loss” by having their dogs destroyed and face prosecution before a Magistrate for “disobedience.”

The court order further records the rates sanctioned by Municipal Commissioners for “slaying stray dogs” at two annas for a dog and three annas for a bitch.

Modern animal rights laws are stringent against killing of stray animals. Under Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, it is illegal to kill stray animals. Violation of the provision may attract imprisonment up to three months and or fine of Rs.100.

The High Courts of Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Mumbai, and several other States forbids killing of stray dogs. The Animal Welfare Board of India has laid down a code of conduct for municipalities to follow with regard to stray dogs. Failure to do so can invite contempt of court proceedings.