Adopting a pet is an act which has seen a tremendous shift in acceptance over time. While earlier pets were considered a luxury which only a few people could afford to have, now adopting pets have become much easier and well accepted a practice. Pets have become companions to many, helping them in many ways while at the same time helping them form an intense emotional bond between a human and their pet. With an estimate of almost 10 million pets and almost 60,000 new pets being adopted every year, India surpasses most countries in terms of enthusiasm for pets.
The Indian Constitution has long advocated coexistence between all creatures under Article 51(g), which gives every citizen the right to decide how they choose to live, which includes the choice to live with or without a companion animal. Despite it being considered a fundamental right, most pet owners are subjected to harassment due to their choice of keeping a pet, especially in residential apartments. Associations like Pupcakes and Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA), which help people adopt dogs from shelters, have received accounts of several such cases.
For example, a family living in a residential apartment in Navi Mumbai was restrained from bringing their pet into the building lift and another family in Delhi returned to their apartment only to find a notice stuck on their door asking them to either give up their pet or evacuate the apartment.
Residents with pets are often given notices from the apartment authorities demanding they abandon their pets as it is inconvenient for other tenants. Many tenants having no knowledge about the laws and bylaws of animal welfare, often give in to these erroneous demands.
Some of the rules set by the Animal Welfare Board of India in their recent circular are:
1. Despite other tenants being in consensus about not allowing pets in the apartment, a ban on owning pets is illegal and can’t be enforced on tenants.
2. They can’t pass any such notice regarding the size or breed of dogs which will be accepted in the apartment, while others are rejected.
3. The barking of pet dogs won’t be considered as a valid reason to ban dogs from the apartment. However, pet owners are advised to try their best in keeping their dogs quiet, especially at night.
4. Apartment associations can’t pass any laws against pets using the elevators or lifts or impose a fine on tenants whose pets use said elevators or lifts. However, if an alternative lift already exists in the apartment, pet owners are advised to use it for convenience.
5. Pets can’t be outright banned from gardens, parks and other public spaces. However, provisions can be made to adjust timings such that they don’t disturb or scare other tenants or kids, or create any inconvenience.
6. The owners must follow strict regimes to keep their pets healthy and hygienic. All vaccinations should be administered regularly and adequately. Sterilisation of pets is advised, to keep their population in check.
7. Pet owners are advised to participate in the effective cleaning of faeces from their pets while on public premises, methods of which might be suggested by apartment associations.
There are many who care for the stray dogs or cats in their neighbourhood, feeding them and offering them warmer clothes for winters. These are some rules that you should remember:
1. Those who feed or offer shelter to stray animals in their locality are also advised to participate in these animals’ sterilisation, vaccination and health care. However, after sterilisation and vaccination, those animals must be returned to the same locality, under ABC Rules 2001.
2. Any cruelty towards strays is also a punishable offence under section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code.
3. Bears, Monkeys and other animals can’t be kept and trained for entertainment purposes, under Section 22 (ii), PCA Act 1960.
Another important point to remember is the list of animals which are allowed to be kept as pets. In addition to dogs, cat and cattle, most animals which are domestically found can be kept as pets. This includes horses, ponies, pigs, red-eared sliders, fish reared in aquariums, rabbits, etc.
Budgerigars, pigeons, finches, poultry and some other variety of love-birds are allowed to be kept as pets as well, while other birds like parakeets are strictly forbidden. Most varieties of rodents and turtles are also banned from being kept as pets.
In a time when the animosity towards animals has set dangerous and often horrifying examples, these rules come as a ray of hope, that people will be more susceptible to any such offence happening around them, and honour those animals for who they are: companions, trusted and loving.
Nilesh Mondal is an intern with Youth Ki Awaaz for the February-March 2017 batch.