The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has suggested that “extremely aggressive and bad tempered dogs” should be euthanised or put to sleep but later clarified that it was a mistake and would be rectified soon.
The board officials said they meant only those dogs suffering and were terminally ill should be euthanised.
In its ‘Module for Dog Population Management Rabies Eradication Reducing Man - Dog Conflict in India’ submitted to the Supreme Court early this month, the board suggested that euthanasia should be allowed for dogs “prone to biting people and with a history of having bitten people”.
Sources in the animal board said the suggestion was made on July 12. The next hearing is on July 20.
The Animal Welfare Board of India is a statutory advisory body on animal welfare laws and promotes animal welfare in the country.
The Bombay high court and the Kerala high court had okayed killing of stray dogs in 2008 and 2015, respectively. Both the orders were challenged in the Supreme Court. The apex court in March this year sought responses of the state governments and asked the AWBI to come out with a module by July 12.
Animal activists fear that such directions would encourage stray dog culling in the country.
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“The section essentially means that any dog, which the civic body thinks is dangerous or aggressive, should be put down. Also, the module is contradictory to the AWBI’s earlier stand where it had objected to similar policies being implemented by several civic agencies of the country,” said Rishi Dev, animal activist.
Dev questioned the “error” by the board and said, “The module has been submitted to the Supreme Court by an agency whose primary job is to work for animal welfare. There should be no scope for error. It seems that this new section has been specially introduced to reduce the population of dogs in India.”
Others demanded immediate correction in the module. “Such suggestions threaten the life of dogs. They may be misinterpreted to kill dogs with impunity. This has left a grey area and will encourage a blood bath, something similar to what happened in Kerala. This requires immediate rectification,” said Geeta Seshamani, chairperson, Friendicoes SECA, an animal rights group.
The board maintained that it was correcting the module. “There was an error in the module and we have initiated the process to correct it. The board meant to suggest that only those dogs, which are suffering from incurable diseases or are paralytic and can’t move at all or are suffering from rabies should be put down or euthanised,” said Major General (Retd) RM Kharb, chairman, AWBI.