What started of as one animal lover’s concern for a Doberman that had served the nation for 13 loyal years, ended in forcing the Ministry of Railways to modify a 23-year-old rule - once they are no longer fit to serve, dogs will now be handed over to animal welfare organizations, instead of as before being auctioned, or worse, simply put to sleep.
In the first week of September, Dr Arun Kumar, a lawyer and president of the Jharkhand Animal Welfare Society, learnt that the Railway Protection Force (RPF) had ordered the removal of Nidhi, a Dobermann, from its sniffer dog squad in the usual manner: auction or death.
Nidhi had been declared unfit for service.
“I contacted the RPF divisional security commissioner and threatened legal action if they auctioned or killed Nidhi,” said Dr Kumar. He sent them copies of a Kerala High Court judgment ordering a temple committee to give pension to an ‘unfit’ elephant for the rest of her life.
Dr Kumar suggested that the RPF authorities hand Nidhi over to him since he ran a registered animal welfare organisation.
On September 26, R.K. Sinha, Director General, RPF, wrote to say that the provision of auctioning unfit dogs had been abolished. “When a government veterinary doctor declares a dog serving with us unfit, she/he may be handed over to any registered animal welfare organisation of the area free of cost,” Sinha said in his letter.