Feeding of Stray Dogs and Position of Pet Parents in Cooperative Housing Society
This research paper focuses on the current ways and techniques for stray dogs and pet parents to exist peacefully with Cooperative Housing Societies. The Animal Birth Control rules were released in March 2023. With regards to that this paper tries to highlight the important measures, precautions and guidelines to be followed in order to immunize and sterilize stray dogs in the community. While relying on certain case laws, the relevance of the recently released Animal birth Control Rules, 2023 are explained. This paper also explores the position of Pet parents in Cooperative Housing Societies and various laws governing them. The question of keeping pets in societies, their responsibilities, privileges and prohibitions is also answered.
The main aim is to strive towards overall welfare and protection of animals which is the fundamental duty of every citizen.
The Indian pariah dog is among the most ancient surviving dog breeds in the world. Street dogs establish territory and protect it by making a lot of noise, either barking, sobbing, or howling. This is both an assertion of power over the territory they’ve staked claim to and a warning to the rest of the pack to stay alert. Unfortunately, the primary contributory factor of stray dogs is the owner’s deliberate abandoning of the animal. Families who rush to get a puppy often do so without fully understanding the obligations of dog ownership. By transmitting disease, attacking and injuring people, or leaving their waste in yards or close to water supplies, stray animals can cause harm to people and other animals. On the other hand, stray animals are also in danger because they are helpless creatures who run the risk of being attacked by wild animals or being wounded in a car accident.
India lacks efficient methods for controlling animals and healthcare. As a result, adequate measures to maintain pets’ health and control stray animals are not taken. The unregulated breeding of strays as a result of the inadequate animal control efforts has caused a significant population boom. Animal welfare organizations try their utmost to give stray animals care and shelter, but this is not enough on its own. People must also look after their pets and refrain from adding to the number of stray dogs. India has rules that make taking a dog off the streets as violative of the law. A dog has the “right” to remain on the streets unless adopted. While India’s laws work to protect defenseless dogs, they also foster the ideal conditions for the stray dog issue to spread and get worse.
The government launched the Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme in 2001 with the goal of reducing the number of stray dogs by sterilising and immunising them. Local governments and NGOs carry out the programme while receiving funding from the government. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, which was also passed by the Indian government, forbids cruelty to animals, especially stray dogs. According to the Act, it is against the law to leave pets or allow them to become strays and stipulates that every owner of an animal is responsible for ensuring its welfare. The Animal Birth Control Rules, 2023 were just released on March 10th, 2023 by the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairy. These regulations, which are established under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,1960 replace the Animal Birth Control (Dog) Rules, 2001.
It is acceptable to feed stray dogs both within and outside of any society, but it is against the law to intimidate dog feeders into abdicating their constitutional duty as outlined in Article 51A(g) of the Indian Constitution. Numerous court rulings have defended dog feeders and keepers from the fury of ignorant neighbours, and the Animal Welfare Board of India has provided lengthy instructions on giving food to homeless dogs. Section 503 and Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code say that Criminal intimidation is described as obstructing or bothering anyone who wishes to take care of and feed communal dogs. In addition, Sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 defines animal cruelty as a crime. Injury, poisoning, relocation, or removal of an animal’s shelter are all considered serious offences under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
Animal Birth Control Rules, 2023
Community Animals are defined by the regulations as any animal born in a neighbourhood where no one or any group has claimed ownership over it; this definition does not apply to wild animals as defined by the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
- Stray dogs must be captured, vaccinated, neutered, and released back into the wild according to the Animal Birth Control Rules, 2023.
- This strategy tries to reduce the dog population without resorting to brutality.
- The 2001 Rules were unsuccessful because the programme was administered haphazardly, allowing dog populations to keep expanding. Dogs can still form packs and attack people despite neutering and vaccinations alone.
- The Rules are meant to serve as guidelines for Animal Birth Control (ABC) programmes that sterilise and immunise stray dogs. Local government entities like as municipalities, municipal corporations, and panchayats should run these programmes.
- These organisations should work together to carry out ABC and the anti-rabies programmes.
- The Rules offer recommendations for resolving disputes between people and dogs without moving the animals.
The Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying issued the Animal Birth Control Rules on March 10, 2023. These regulations mandate that Resident welfare Associations (RWAs) and Apartment Owner Associations (AOAs) provide a designated area and time for residents to feed their pets. According to the policy, feeding street dogs is necessary to prevent them from becoming aggressive out of hunger and to make it easier to capture them for sterilisation, even though it may cause some hardship for residents, particularly those who with a strong opposition to dogs. The rules are as follows:
- The eating spaces must be situated away from children’s play areas, entrances and exits, and stairwells, and in an area where kids and old retired people are least likely to be present.
- The movement of kids and senior adults should be taken into consideration when RWAs or AOAs set feeding times.
- The authorised feeder is responsible for making sure there isn’t garbage left at the feeding area.
- The Rules indicated that designated feeders were permitted to give voluntary service to ensure the vaccination of dogs and to help trap and release animals to support the animal birth control scheme.
- It is now legitimately allowed in India to feed stray dogs, providing the feeding takes place at locations that have been jointly decided upon by the community carers (street dog feeders) and resident welfare associations (RWA).
- The approved feeding place must be distant from public streets, pedestrian walkways, and footpaths that are routinely used by people for commuting, according to the policy rules for feeding stray dogs.
- In light of the fact that dogs are territorial creatures, it proposes having several feeding locations within a community.
- The rules advise feeding near partitions or walls of residences that is usually not utilised for access or passing, infrequently used service roads, and isolated regions.
- Additionally, it states that a signboard with precise timing slots must be used to identify the authorised area.
- The policy for carers who feed stray animals states that in order to give dogs food, it must be done in a sanitary manner and meat that has not been cooked should not be given.
- According to the rules, no one may prevent someone else from feeding dogs unless doing so is endangering them, and dog feeders are required to make sure the animals are sterilised and vaccinated.
- A 7-member Animal Welfare Committee would be established to make the ultimate determinations if a conflict arises between the apartment owners and caretakers.
- It states that “it is also the community residents” responsibility to have their street dog population sterilised through a dog sterilisation programme run by an NGO.” The goal of the ordinance is to put an end to the disagreement between people who feed dogs in public places and those who object to it.
Relevance of the March 2023-notified Animal Birth Control Rules
The Union government has created regulations to address the country’s growing stray dog population for the second time in twenty years. In 2001, notice of the previous list of rules was given. At the current time, the stray dogs that we all see running around have been given a new title: “community dogs.” If given a chance to succeed, this could significantly impact how they are treated These rules has put an absolute right on the community dogs to feeding them in both private as well as public owned spaces and were published under the authority of Section 38 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. Hence, it is the law.
The importance of the 2023 Rules should be understood in light of the disputes that have developed in some cities between engaged members of society who actively advocate for social and political change have assumed the responsibility of feeding stray animals and those in charge of “resident welfare associations” (RWAs) of housing complexes.
The RWAs want to keep these creatures out of their gated communities. Because the space is now legally owned by the people who have acquired the apartments, they insist that strays must be removed even if they have been residing there for long. The only option available to the animals is to leave and fend for themselves elsewhere. On the contrary, some people who live in the same apartment complexes provide sustenance to these animals as an act of compassion and, naturally, due to their profound affection for animals.. The strays were given a sense of being part of a community by simply changing the language to “community animals,” which gave the dogs a sense of identity.
It is desired that the authorities in power would from the present scenario commit sufficient tools for developing the animal birth control vision. These resources should be used in conjunction with the requirements for sterilising these community canines that are specifically outlined in these Rules. The municipalities and village panchayats, which are the country’s local self-governing entities, have a clear responsibility to guarantee the achievement of the sterilising and anti-rabies programmes.
Animal Birth Control Rules, 2023 cited in Bombay High Court Decisions
The Animal Birth Control Rules, 2023 were cited in two recent Bombay High Court decisions.
The Bombay High Court had the opportunity to review these rules while hearing two public interest litigations (PILs) brought by citizens involved in defending animal rights who had been forbidden by their society’s management from providing food to stray dogs on property of the society or who were being threatened and harassed for the same.
The initial lawsuit against Seawood Estates Ltd., brought by Sharmila Sankar and others, had a past. In 2021, the activists filed a PIL with the high court, which was dismissed when the Seawood administration promised to designate locations to provide food to stray dogs. Instead, Seawood built a few ad hoc facilities on public property away from the estate to serve as feeding stations for the animals. Natural opposition from the local corporation led to the removal of these unlicensed constructions, which prompted the activists to return to court prepared with a petition for contempt of court against Seawood.
In this judgement, the court first exhaustively considers whether RWAs can forbid dog feeders from taking care of the stray animals living in society under various justifications. The Bench, however, strongly reaffirmed its belief that having sensitivity for all living things is a fundamental duty of citizens, as stated in Article 51A(g) of the Constitution, depending significantly on a few previous decisions of the Apex Court as well as the recently released Animal Birth Control Rules, most notably the part on proving food for animals and showing kind gestures towards community dogs.
Addressing the reliability of these Rules, the first ruling states: Along with having the authority of law since these rules are drafted under section 38 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, they also have the backing of the constitution under Article 51A(g). The court further added, There is preferably a statute in the nation that the basic constitutional protections guaranteed by the Constitution ought to be held within reach even in non-humans.
Similar complaints were made in the second petition, which was submitted by a woman named Paromita Purthan. She claimed that she was unable to feed community dogs living on the society’s property and was instead forced to do so on the roadside, putting the dogs at risk of mishaps, and that the RWA had hired security guards to harass and threaten her.
Ending its judgment in the second case, the Bench stated: It is expected that a notion of affiliation and duty towards problems like these needs to prevail and there must be harmony among the members of society in order to solve such problems, and there should be no conflict in this context. Hating stray dogs or treating them brutally is never proper conduct for members of civil society. Such actions would not only violate the law, but also constitute the act of committing of an offense.
The rulings of the high court in these two cases are to be applauded since they offer a more comprehensive understanding of the rights of all living things on this planet.
Directions by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) for pet parents and feeders of stray dogs
According to the guidelines:
- It is illegal to abandon a pet animal, and no degree of coercion from a Residents Welfare Association (RWA) or society will be enough to get someone to do it. Apartment Owners Associations (AOAs), also known as RWAs, do not possess the right to prohibit pet owners from using elevators or other publicly free areas like gardens. Additionally, RWAs and AOAs lack the power to pass by laws that forbid or limit residents from owning pet dogs or that discriminate against residents according to the proportions or type of the dog.
- The AWBI regulations for homeless animals specify that providing food to stray dogs is a lawfully authorized practice and owners and feeders should have the dogs disinfected and vaccinated in order to help associations that take care of the well-being of animals to ensure the healthiness of animals. It’s also important to note that, in accordance with the Government of India’s Animal Birth Control Rules, 2001, no sterilized dogs may be taken out of their region.
- Additionally, it is illegal for cars to intentionally harm pets or any other animals on the road. Whoever disobeys these rules can be brought to the notice of the police as well as the neighborhood animal protection group. Appropriate strict punishments are given for all of the aforementioned offences.
- The Board also provides guidelines for people who look after stray dogs, telling them to feed stray dogs on public land in a hygienic manner and to steer clear of feeding strays close to playgrounds for kids.
- It recommends pet parents feed their animals in the early hours of the morning or late at night when there is minimal pedestrian or automotive traffic.
- Distribution of food must be conducted far from areas that are heavily populated.
- They ought to keep tabs on the sterilization of dogs and let the neighborhood’s people know about it. It should be a constant endeavor to educate neighboring individuals.
Indian laws governing Pet Parents in apartments.
The law protects the rights of pet owners no matter what type of housing they occupy. The Resident Welfare Association or the Management Committee should keep in mind that the apartments are individual private homes, and that owning a legal pet is not against the law in any country. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, Section 11(3), reiterates the significance of treating animals with kindness. By helping to maintain a stable social structure, local RWAs and Associations can serve as a resource for informing residents about the law’s foundational principles. RWAs can take legal action against community members who neglect to care for their animals in accordance with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
- Enacting pet laws in societies which ban or put prohibitions on them are against the law. This cannot be done even with the support of the majority of the community’s members.
- No breed or size restrictions may be placed on dogs or other pets by a housing cooperative. No valid reason exists to ban pets, not even noise from barking dogs.
- A housing society cannot prohibit a pet from enjoying amenities like elevators and parks or charge a punishment or additional fee for doing so.
- Laws against dog harassment cannot be made by society.The “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act” makes it unlawful to abuse or neglect strays. Sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code also make this an illegal act.
- No one in the area can be punished for feeding homeless pets.
- There are several animals that can’t employed for the sake of entertaining purposes due to the “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,” including bears, monkeys, and parakeets. This rule also prohibits the ownership of most reptiles and rodents.
- As a result of these pet bylaws, society must be careful not to breach pet-related legislation. To safeguard the well-being of the dogs and the residents, society can nonetheless establish and enforce dog-keeping norms and regulations. The society can enforce the following pet rules to keep things peaceful.
Case laws :
Shri. Ajay Madhusudan Marathe Vs. New Sarvodaya CHS Ltd, (2010)
A resident’s complaint that his cooperative society had enacted a resolution barring pets from accessing elevators was upheld by the Consumer Court. The society made this decision because the dog wasn’t a paying customer and because the transmission of disease was a concern if the elevator was used by non-paying customers, such as the dog. The owner was deemed a consumer by the court since he was a member of the cooperative housing society and had every right to file a complaint with the Consumer Court. The dog was not only registered with the city of Bombay but also with the Kennel Club of India and the Bombay College of Veterinarians had given a health certificate for him. The court ruled once again that no one could be barred from owning a pet, and that animals were allowed to ride elevators with their owners.
Karnail Singh & Ors vs State Of Haryana, (2019)
In 2019, animals were recognized as legal persons by the Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High Court. One could view this as a positive development in Indian legal precedent. Justice Shri Rajiv Sharma said thus in his ruling that “Each and every animal deserves respect and admiration. There should be legal protections in place to ensure the continued existence of all species. All animals should be afforded the protection of the law to ensure that their rights and privacy are not violated. The honorable judge went on to rule that all animals, including birds and fish, are deemed to be separate legal beings with the rights, responsibilities, and liabilities of a living person. For the sake of animal welfare and protection, all residents of Haryana State are officially recognized as “persons in loco parentis.”
Accidents where a dog owned by someone causes harm to a human.
A criminal complaint can be brought under sections 287 and 337 of the IPC if someone is bitten by or injured by a dog that is kept as a pet. However, this is not an excuse for RWAs to impose excessive regulations. Infringing on residents’ rights (such as a pet prohibition, or what kind of dog to get, can’t use elevators, etc.) is unreasonable and may not stand up in court, but any law that is fairly necessary to defend persons and property is fine. Each regulation will need to be evaluated independently based on how practical it is and what effect it hopes to have. A person who suffers a dog bite must prove that the dog’s owner was irresponsible, that the victim did not incite the animal and that the dog was not restrained, etc.
If a person is hurt by a pet, the owner might be held legally responsible. It is possible to initiate both criminal and civil (damages) proceedings. It is possible to submit a police report and a legal complaint for damages. Criminal convictions have been handed down under Section 289 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which carries a maximum prison term of six months. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) isn’t the only law that allows for prosecution on this count; many local laws regulating municipal authorities and their operations do as well.
The duty of pet parents for maintaining a dog in an apartment
Respectful pet ownership is essential to communal harmony. Knowing the laws that protect you and your dog is vital, but so is knowing your obligations as a pet owner in your community. Remember these instructions the next time you utilize a space that is shared.
Make sure your dog has had plenty of obedience training so it doesn’t act inappropriately in public spaces or provoke other residents. Many strange people live among us in society. If you don’t want your pet to hurt a stranger or cause trouble, it’s important that he or she is familiar with the neighbourhood. Vaccinations should be given at the appropriate times. Anti-rabies and Feligen/TriCat vaccinations for cats need to be updated annually. Anti-Rabies, DHLPPi, and KC vaccines are annual requirements for dogs. If your pet is ill, you must give them their medication and engage in and inspire other pet owners to participate in vaccination or sterilisation drives for strays that your housing society organizes. Read the community’s rules and regulations and any advice it may have before signing a lease or making a purchase. Don’t break them or you’ll be hassled by angry neighbours. Please observe any park or garden access restrictions imposed by your community. Most people care about cleanliness, thus potty training your pet is a must. Even though it may not be the law, it is in the best interest of everyone involved if pet parents pick up after their animals if they have accidents on society property. Keeping your pet clean is important for their health and for the comfort of others. If you do decide to feed strays, make sure there is nothing left over after they have eaten. It is nevertheless important to keep an eye on your pet at all times, even if it is well-trained, when you are in a public area. If you have pets and you take them for walks or if they play with youngsters, make sure to keep them on a leash. Check that your pet doesn’t show any signs of hostility or aggression toward strays or other animals. Be certain that your pets receive plenty of exercise so they won’t wear you out with their energy. Ensure that your pet has enough food, drink, and entertainment if you have to leave it alone for long periods of time. Take care that they don’t cause trouble while you’re away.
The pets we share our lives with are indispensable. Pet owners, other residents, and management committees may all do their part to protect animals and people by working together and adopting a few simple policies.
The survival of humans and nonhuman species alike is essential to maintaining ecological harmony. To safeguard and prevent the mass killing of dogs and to give them with the required care and precaution by offering financial aid as soon as possible, it is crucial to develop rules, programs, and committees by collaborating with the center and states. It is also the responsibility of every citizen to monitor and supervise the application of the rules.
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