Street dogs have rights too!

Street dogs have rights too!

Photo: Shutterstock

Animal lovers may already know this, but under Indian laws street dogs have rights too. So the next time you see a helpless animal being shooed away, beaten or otherwise mistreated, remember that you can inform the abuser that he may be held accountable in accordance with the Indian Penal Code.

There are no laws in India that forbid the feeding of stray animals on the streets, so people who are doing so cannot legally be stopped by force or aggression.

Street dogs also have the right to stay within their locality. This means you are not allowed to displace an animal or drive it away from your area if it has been living there for a while.

In the USA, unwanted dogs are euthanized by municipal and privately operated animal shelters. Many of the animals are sick or injured beyond help, but animals are also put to death when the shelters have no more space. This practice is not allowed in India, according to the Web site of Jaagruti, a charitable group that provides aid and vaccinations to street dogs. Municipalities are not even allowed to pick up street dogs just because some human residents of an area don’t want the animals around.

Some people may be concerned and argue that the stray dog population is getting out of hand, and feeding these animals only adds to the problem. However, positive action can be taken in other ways to help curb the issue.

Getting the animals vaccinated and sterilized under the Animal Birth Control Programme (ABC) is the best way to bring down the population of strays, according to Jaagruti. Under the ABC program, authorized organizations can picked up street dogs, get them neutered, vaccinated against rabies and released back to the respective areas from where they had been captured. They must operate in accordance with the Animal Birth Control Rules 2001 framed, under Section 38 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 and as per the orders of Supreme Court of India.

Getting dogs vaccinated and sterilized ensures that they do not breed and do not pose the risk of disease to other dogs and people. Advocates believe that by returning the dogs to their original area, it keeps other stray dogs from coming into that territory. Dogs above the age of four months can be picked up for sterilization. A stray dog in that has been sterilized will have a notch or cut on its right ear as a form of identification.

A 2004 report from the World Health Organization’s Expert Consultation on Rabies stated, “Since the 1960s, ABC programs coupled with rabies vaccination have been advocated as a method to control urban street male and female dog populations and ultimately human rabies in Asia. The rationale is to reduce the dog population turnover as well as the number of dogs susceptible to rabies and limit aspects of male dog behavior (such as dispersal and fighting) that facilitate the spread of rabies. The culling of dogs during these programs may be counterproductive as sterilized, vaccinated dogs may be destroyed.”

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