As stray dog attacks increase, the Centre has decided to reach out to the States, local self-governments (LSGs) and Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) on implementing the new set of Animal Birth Control Rules prepared by the Ministry of Animal Husbandry recently. Notified on March 10, the Rules put the onus of maintaining and controlling the population of stray dogs on LSGs and RWAs.
Talking to The Hindu, Secretary of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), S.K. Dutta, said the Rules of 2001, based on the Prevention of Cruelties to Animals Act, 1960, were amended to “adopt humane procedures for controlling stray animal population through open methods of surgeries and operations”. The decision is also based on several Supreme Court judgements, Dr. Dutta said. “Local bodies were not following the 2001 Rules. We got a number of complaints on cruelty to animals and other malpractices. After reviewing these Rules, the Ministry, in consultation with AWBI, revised these Rules and notified it on March 10,” he said. The Ministry has requested all Chief Secretaries and State government departments to ensure proper implementation of these new rules.
He said nature of the dogs should be considered while dealing with complaints about man-animal conflict. “No court allows relocation of dogs. Dog is a territorial animal. They cannot be kept in closed confinement and they will be more furious if we do so. Animal welfare activists who go for feeding dogs face harassment at some places. So, we have framed a set of actions to be followed by RWAs and LSGs. It is elaborated in the new set of rules,” he said.
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The new Rules prescribe that Animal Birth Control (ABC) programmes for sterilisation and immunisation of stray dogs are to be carried out by LSGs. The Ministry is also concerned about complaints of cruelty involved in carrying out ABC programmes. “By effective implementation of these Rules, ABC can be conducted by local bodies which will help in reducing stray dog population while addressing animal welfare issues. This is for birth control as well as maintenance of stray animals. It is the duty of the local authorities to maintain and control the population of stray animals. They will be held responsible for any violation and animal-human conflicts,” Dr. Dutta said.
He said the AWBI has received good response from LSGs on the new Rules. “Some are taking time to study the Rules while animal welfare activists are gladly accepting them,” he said.
The Rules also suggest euthanasia for “incurably ill and mortally wounded dogs” as diagnosed by a team appointed by the Local Animal Birth Control Monitoring Committee. The Rules suggest that it should be done in a humane manner by intravenous administration of sodium pentobarbital or any other approved humane method, by a qualified veterinarian. It also suggests establishment of an Animal Help Centre where complaints about dog or cat bites can be registered.
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The Rules want the RWAs to designate feed spots for dogs which shall be far from children play areas, entry and exit points, staircase or in an area which is likely to be least frequented by children and senior citizens. Dr. Dutta said if garbage is managed at the source, stray animals can also be managed. He said cities such as Ooty, Chennai and parts of Uttarakhand, Goa and Delhi can be showcased as better models in managing stray dogs.