Breed dogs? Own fish? You must now submit annual report on your pets’ health | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Breed dogs? Own fish? You must now submit annual report on your pets’ health

Mumbai city news: In a four-part series in April, HT had reported about the trade in pets, and its associated cruelties.

mumbai Updated: May 27, 2017 09:47 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Animal cruelty cases is rampant in Mumbai with 19,028 cases registered between 2011 and 2016, or about 4,000 a year.
Animal cruelty cases is rampant in Mumbai with 19,028 cases registered between 2011 and 2016, or about 4,000 a year.(HT FILE)

The Centre has passed new rules, originally aimed at curbing cruelty to pets, addresses only a few types of animals — dogs, fish and livestock. The new rules, issued as a notification under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, will require dog breeders and owners of livestock and aquariums to register with local Animal Welfare Boards. They will also have to provide an annual report on the health and living condition of their animals.

In a four-part series in April, HT had reported about the trade in pets, and its associated cruelties. Animal cruelty cases is rampant in Mumbai with 19,028 cases registered between 2011 and 2016, or about 4,000 a year. In all that time, there has not been a single prosecution.

The new rules have been framed under the longwinded ‘Dog Breeding and Marketing Rules and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Aquarium and Fish Tank Animals Shop) Rules’.

Dr S Chinny Krishna, former vice-chairman, Animal Welfare Board of India who was on the AWBI committee that drafted guidelines for the new rules said separate rules for cats and other pets remained stuck in red tape. “The centre has focussed only upon sources of trade that invite a lot of money through breeding. The focus is only on dogs, livestock and fish.

“However, as a part of the Animal Welfare Bill, which AWBI had drafted in 2014, separate guidelines were issued for cats, birds, hamsters and exotic pets. This bill remains stuck and there seems to be no urgency from the ministry to table it,” he said.

Animal lovers welcomed the notifications, but said they expected all pets to be brought under the same law. “While such a move was required at least 10 years ago, we would have been happier if the regulations included all pets and not just dogs,” said Pawan Sharma, Mulund resident.

“No establishment being used or intended to be used for breeding or housing dogs for breeding shall be granted any licence, unless the breeder has obtained a certificate of registration from the state board,” read the preliminary guideline of the notification.

Shops selling fish for aquariums will have to register and ensure that the fish are kept in hygienic conditions. “No fish shop shall trade in animals other than fish tank animals,” it read.

Dog breeders and shops selling fish for aquariums will have to register themselves with state’s animal welfare board. (HT FILE)

The new rules also recommend that an animal market monitoring committee be formed in every district, headed by the district magistrate. “To control the livestock market, extensive conditions like smuggling must be checked. The guidelines will help increase accountability and traceability. It will also help check trade in cattle for slaughter, illegal food trade and ensure better animal husbandry practices,” said Gauri Maulekhi, director and trustee, People For Animals, an animal rights group.

Experts said rules are not enough, the implementation matters. “The state government and the police need to implement the rules properly. This notification has finally been passed after two years. Most animal welfare boards in states are defunct such as the one in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. However, with this law, there is room for change,” said Dr Krishna, former vice-chairman, Animal Welfare Board of India.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, continues to levy fines of Rs 10 to Rs 100 for animal cruelty while the minimum fine under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, is Rs 25,000. “The revision of penalties is under consideration and as these are from 1960, they need to be inflation corrected,” said a senior official from Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.

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“On the basis of these rules now, if we find violators we will cancel licences and file police complaints to ensure that they are taken to task,” said Dr Prashant Bhad, assistant commissioner, animal husbandry department, Maharashtra.