This article is being written at a time when many incidents have come into the spotlight, where the residents have been in a conflict-like situation regarding the feeding of stray dogs. A few days back, I came to know through Facebook how residents of a housing society located in Kandivali, Maharashtra have been harassing a family who has been feeding stray dogs in that area. This family narrated how other residents were abusing them, and how the committee members wanted to shift the neutered stray dogs out of the society, even when this process is illegal. As per the PCA (Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Act, 1960, stray dogs cannot be relocated from their territory. Hence, what the committee members of this society intend to do is clearly in violation of laws.
One more incident happened a few days back in a housing society in Thane where another resident harassed a woman for feeding a dog. When this news was reported, and other media outlets contacted the chairman of the concerned society, he defended the accused resident by saying that feeding dogs was not allowed. This statement clearly shows either the individual is not aware of the laws or he is intentionally violating them.
Such actions of society residents towards others cannot be tolerated because it sets up a dangerous precedent. If society members go against the laws as per their justification, then there will be others too who would go against the laws—just because they have some justification that suits them.
The residents claim that the stray dogs are a menace, but for that, the governments have already taken steps to control their population. They say that dogs are aggressive, but many incidents have proved that if stray dogs are given proper food and stay away from garbage, then they do tend to be tolerant. This practice was conducted in my society, too, where the stray dogs—after getting proper pet food from residents—have behaved in a friendly way with everyone unless provoked.
Although the police officials have claimed that they will investigate this matter, the problem is, they generally encourage the society members to sort the matter among themselves, as they are already overwhelmed with other cases. Even if the officials take action against the offenders, the accused are released eventually because these crimes do not carry severe punishment.
One more justification which some residents give is that if we intend to feed the stray dogs, we should take them home. Such statements are as bizarre as saying that we should always give our belongings to the thieves without any hesitation.
If there are laws which state no society should bar anyone from feeding the dogs, then the housing societies should respect these laws. If they don’t respect the law, then they should not complain if some illegal activity is practised against them because those residents are already violating the laws. I will conclude this by saying that shifting a neutered dog from its area is like forcefully shifting or evicting a legal resident of a society.