Legal Protection for People Who Want to Take Care of Stray Dogs

Animal lovers, the law is on your side

It has not been the best of times for animals and animal lovers in India. Stray dogs have been routinely targeted by human beings and those who try to protect these helpless animals have also felt the wrath of those who believe strays are menace to society. In January this year, the Supreme Court has dismissed a petition seeking the mass killing of stray dogs. A petitioner who wanted to “totally destroy” stray dogs in India was told by the SC that “they (stray dogs) also have a right to live”.

Incidents of stray dogs biting humans have increased and this has prompted some to take drastic measures. In 2016, some members of a youth wing of the Kerala Congress Mani group, a political party, beat 10 stray dogs to death, strung their corpses up on a pole in Kottayam. In October 2016, an alumni association of a college in Kerala’s Kottayam had distributed air guns to tackle the stray dog menace in October 2016. Those who try to stop these revolting acts of cruelty are met with a cruel response. In Pune, two women in Pune were assaulted by their neighbour after they refused to let officials to take away four newborn puppies they were caring for. Despite all this violence and animosity towards strays in India, there are many people who still care for them. The good news is that the law on their side.

The Delhi High Court has stated that there are no laws that say we cannot feed stray animals. This means there is nothing illegal if you feed your neighbourhood cat or dog even if your neighbours take offence to it. In December 2009 and February 2010, the Court said that stray dogs have to be fed so that they remain in the same area which is helpful for animal birth control and vaccination.

Image: Instagram/@mumbaipariahs
Image: Instagram/@mumbaipariahs

Feeding poisonous food to animals, torturing them or wilfully injuring them is a crime according to Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960. According to Sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code and the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960, it it is illegal to hurt animals. Violating these laws can attract a fine of Rs 2000 and/or a jail term for up to five years.

Under the Govt. of India, Animal Birth Control Rules 2001, sterilised dogs cannot be removed from their area. This means that it is illegal for a sterilised stray to be dumped in another part of town.

The Animal Welfare Board of India issues IDs for people who feed stray animals. This IDs help protect animal lovers from sadistic animal haters. However, till animal lovers do not file FIRs against persons who have committed acts of cruelty against animals, there is nothing much the law can do.