If you are a Bangalorean and are keeping dogs at home, there could perhaps soon be a slab enforced on their number. Three, if yours is an independent house, and just one if it’s in an apartment you reside. For, the civic body administering the big city seems poised to come up with a fresh set of restrictions, much to the ire of animal lovers.
A recent notification by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on new bylaws regarding upkeep of pets seeks the corporation’s approval for keeping domesticated dogs in households. If implemented in its current draft format, the ‘Pet Dog licensing Bylaws 2018’ imposes a string of curtailments—one of which is on the number of canines at home.
Pet lovers are concerned that the proposed BBMP policy may lead to massive abandonment of dogs, pushing up the city’s stray population. “The city has more than 2,000 residents who have more than one dog. Many of them reside in apartments. So what happens to the animals that are forced to be abandoned?” says Priya Chetty Rajagopal, founder of the CJ Memorial Trust. “The BBMP doesn’t have alternative facility to take care of these dogs. The notification is a direct violation of Article 51A(g) of the Constitution that tells to have compassion for living creatures.”
The BBMP says it is sympathetic to the views of the pet lovers—and gives a hint at efforts for a rapprochement. “The city corporation has taken into account the concern raised by our citizens,” G. Anand, BBMP joint director (animal husbandry) says. “We are planning to hold a meeting with to bring a consensus among all stakeholders.”
For now, the draft that recently acquired the nod from Urban Development Department also mandates a radio collar for the pet. The devise will embed a chip containing information such as the animal’s age, breed and vaccination details besides the owner’s name and address. The owners also need to procure an annual pet license from the BBMP at a cost of Rs 110. Unlicensed dog-owners may have to cough up a fine up to Rs 1,000—plus an additional Rs 300 per day for delays.
Further, the penalty clauses under PDBL allows the Department of Animal Husbandry or allied officials to make surprise checks at public spaces for pet waste and inspect dog license. The provisions also empower them to impose a spot fine of Rs 100 on owners for non-removal of dog litters in public places. The fine may be doubled in case of repeat offence.
Moreover, the owners can domesticate dogs only from the BBMP’s approved list of 64 breeds. The newly proposed rules won’t let the list include local dogs, or even those commonly found breeds at houses like Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherd, Great Dane or Rottweilers. This has surprised many. “If the owners already has one, what is (s)he supposed to do?” says Vinod A., a pet owner. “Just let them join a burgeoning number of stray animals in the city?”
Further, the BBMP will take custody of the unclaimed dogs—and subject them to vaccination, under an Animal Birth Control programme. However, the owners can reclaim the animals within 72 hours for a penalty of Rs 450. If unclaimed, the dogs will be auctioned or sent to shelter homes.
The BBMP—the country’s fourth-largest civic body—has also proposed to quarantine dangerous and animals with infection in the interest of public safety. If the unclaimed dog is suffering from rabies or other serious infectious disease, it will be subject to euthanasia by a veterinarian from the state department of animal husbandry.
Citizens and resident have taken upon themselves the cause for their pets after the proposed notification became public. On social media platforms, #notwithoutmydog has been trending. The CJ Memorial Trust has launched an online petition, which has already received close to 7,350 signatures—and would be submitted to the Joint Commissioner (Health) and other BBMP officials.
Various citizens groups, too, are confronting BBMP for its “failure” to implement the recommendation of The Dog Breeders and Marketing Rules 2017. According to them, the illegal breeding for profit purposes has been rampant in the city and BBMP is turning blind eye to it. “So many times we have sought the BBMP’s cooperation for rescuing abused and malnourished dogs from illegal breeders, but they were not interested,” rues Chetty. “But here, without consultation, they want to impose an arbitrary law and enter out homes. This is not only unconstitutional; in fact the BBMP is indulging in criminal intimidation of the owners by coercing them to abandon animals.”
Meanwhile, the Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA) says it held a discussion with senior BBMP officials and that the session was fruitful. “The notification is least likely to be implemented in its present form,” says Dr Shiela Rao, the honorary trustee of CUPA, a public charitable trust that works for the welfare of animals. “We will be sure to divert the attention of the BBMP officials from compassionate pet-owners to illegal breeders, who remain unpunished.”
The 1991-founded NGO says forceful abandonment of pets is in itself illegal, violating Section 11(1)(i) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960. “We will take all the necessary steps to ensure that a petition is filed in the High Court of Karnataka to quash this notification,” Rao adds.
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