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Peta activist on why the maximum penalty for animal abuse should be increased

Deepak Chaudhary, emergency response coordinator - PeTA India, shares with Anjali Shetty his thoughts on animal welfare.

pune Updated: Oct 13, 2017 23:32 IST
Anjali Shetty
Anjali Shetty
Hindustan Times, Pune
PeTA,Activist,maximum penalty
Deepak Chaudhary, emergency response coordinator, PeTA India.(HT PHOTO)

Deepak Chaudhary, emergency response coordinator, Peta India

The alarming rise in the population of stray dogs and dog bite cases in the city has left residents a worried lot. HT speaks to a member of Peta India on what could be done to avoid stray dog culling and ensure a more harmonious relationship between dogs and humans. Deepak Chaudhary, emergency response coordinator - Peta India, shares with Anjali Shetty his thoughts on animal welfare.

Pune witnessed many stray dog killings in the past fortnight. What can be done to avoid such situations?
It is imperative that the police take cruelty to animal cases seriously, find and punish the offenders to the fullest extent of the law. Punishment under IPC 429 if applied could involve imprisonment which may extend to five years. The penalties under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, which is the main animal welfare legislation, however, are in dire need of being updated. The maximum penalty for a first offence is just ₹50. According to leading mental-health and law-enforcement authorities, people who commit acts of cruelty to animals often don’t stop there – many of them move on to hurting humans. The notorious Veerappan was both a poacher and a serial killer, and the Noida serial murders of children occurred at the home of Moninder Singh Pandher, who was fond of hunting. In a study of domestic violence victims, 60 per cent of women said their abusive partners had harmed or killed their dogs or other animals. Anyone who abuses dogs is a danger to society at large. Taking cruelty to animal cases seriously is necessary in order to ensure everyone’s safety.

Parents often worry about stray dogs in their colonies or societies. What would your suggestion be to ensure safety of kids around stray dogs?
It is important to teach children to be kind to animals—dogs react positively to kindness, just as humans do. Dogs are normally friendly, social, good-natured animals who would not usually attack a person unprovoked. Yet when humans shout at stray dogs, kick or beat them, throw stones at them, toss hot water or acid on them, poison them or abuse them in other ways as they commonly do, they may feel cornered if they are unable to run away or be put in the fearful mindset of feeling that they need to protect themselves or their puppies.

Will neutering of strays help improve their aggressive behaviour?
Dogs are naturally friendly, not aggressive. And despite the abuse that stray dogs routinely face, it seems that most dog bites may be from companion dogs, such as those who play roughly, and not from strays. For example, statistics show that stray dogs were not responsible for the majority of the bite cases reported by General Hospital Ernakulam between 1 January and 12 July 2015. Companion dogs, not strays, were reportedly the cause of 75.6 per cent of the bite cases. That said, sterilised dogs are vaccinated against rabies and returned to where they were found. As a result, they are less likely to bite. As the Welfare of Stray Dogs organisation explains: Stray dogs are surgically neutered and then released in their own area. They are also vaccinated against rabies. Since territories are not left vacant, new dogs cannot enter. Mating and breeding also cease. With no mating or crossing of territories, dog fights reduce dramatically. Since fighting reduces, bites to humans also become rare. The dogs are immunised, so they do not spread rabies. Over time, as the dogs die natural deaths, their numbers dwindle. The dog population becomes stable, non-breeding, non-aggressive and rabies-free, and it gradually decreases over a period of time.

What can be done to sensitise children and grown-ups towards strays?
According to psychologists, sociologists and lawmakers, children who are violent towards animals often grow up to be violent towards both animals and fellow humans. The solution lies in providing India’s teachers with lesson plans and other tools designed to teach children to view animals as feeling, sensitive beings. With this important mission in mind, Peta created the Compassionate Citizen programme. This multidisciplinary kit consists of lessons in history, math, and language arts for students aged 8 through 12 and is available for free to educators. Children at these ages still love animals unconditionally yet are old enough to understand the ethical question of why cruelty is wrong. The programme has been endorsed by CBSE and numerous state governments.

What should one do if they spot a rabid or injured stray?
They can immediately call Peta India’s emergency number for advice: (0) 98201 22602. Dogs suspected to have rabies should not be approached—instead, their whereabouts should be kept an eye on from a distance and a professional should be called.

First Published: Oct 12, 2017 16:52 IST