Why Overprotect Pets?

May 23, 2010 

And in the town a dog was found,
As many dogs there be,
Both mongrel, puppy, whelp and hound
And curs of low degree.
 - Oliver Goldsmith, Irish writer (1728-1774).
We have below-poverty households that live on one meal per day. We have malnourished children by the millions and children dying of starvation by the thousands. We pass laws about food security and see nothing happening, or going to happen, at ground level. Yet, in our cock-eyed priorities we are out to look after the welfare of pets – which, by definition have already have found willingly committed godparents. But, first the facts.
According to a New Delhi-datelined report titled Pets get a break with home rules, published in Deccan Herald, bringing a new pet home will now be at par with adopting a baby, at least from the government perspective. Beginning soon, the Centre will make home inspection – to ensure that pets are not at the receiving end of human cruelty - mandatory. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has prepared draft Pet Shop Rules which, among other things, stipulates that pet owners must obtain a licence from the local municipality. And if the person has multiple pets, he/she will have to obtain different licences for the animals. Applications have to be made with a copy to the Animal Welfare Board.
According to the new regulations, every individual who buys a pet from a store will have to obtain a licence from the local municipality (or local body) within 15 days of the purchase. The pet shop can facilitate the licencing process in exchange for a fee. All licences will have to be renewed every 12 months and if the pet owners fail to do so, the licence will automatically terminate on March 31 every year.  The draft rules have been framed under the Prevention of Cruelty to the Animal Act, 1960.

Owners will have to report the death of their pets to the authorities along with a certificate from the veterinarian, specifying the cause of death. In case of death, the licence will be cancelled automatically. Animal Welfare Board inspectors will visit the buyer’s household to check the pet’s well-being which include food, feeding schedule, exercise regime, the place allocated for the animal to sleep and mating arrangements. If the pet gives birth to offspring, those would also have to be reported the municipality, according to the rules, which will come into effect once it is notified in the official gazette after taking public opinion into account. For pet stores the rules are strict and specific. They lay down the specifications of the enclosures for cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs. Pet shop owners have to be more than 18 years. While the licence fee for a pet shop owner is Rs.5000, they have to pay Rs.2000 every year for renewing the licence.
The rules not only emphasize maintaining clean and spacious living conditions for the pet animals but also specify the feeding and exercise routines and the animal’s wellbeing. A plethora of legislation has been invoked to cover the pet shops to ensure that animals are not subjected to any cruelty.
The absurdity of these new laws and rules is that they are perhaps based on the premise that pet-owners are sadists out to torture their pets. If anything, this quixotic move will hurt the pets. Knowing how babus operate, government inspectors will convert every opportunity to extort blackmail money on the threat of filing cases under numerous provisions. In the event, people will refuse to keep pets just to keep the government pests from pestering them. It is a great disservice to the fraternity of pets and prospective pets. While prospective pet-owners may keep away from acquiring pets, those who presently own pets have no exit route. Being attached to the pets, they will have to reconcile to the inspector raj as they are too attached to their pets to take the dumping route. What is, however, open to them is to form an Association for Prevention of Cruelty to Pet Owners.

So, what is apparently launched with high-minded, though wholly misplaced, ideal is going to be counterproductive. It will open the floodgates of harassment of pet owners and end up in corruption. Instead, the government should look into the sufferings of strays, especially in cities and towns, and get down to doing something for them. There is also the angle of stray dogs causing rabies. The proposed inspectors should be deployed to identify mad dogs and put them to sleep. Instead of looking after the needy, the government is out to pamper the over-pampered. There is an old dictat to “Let the sleeping dogs lie”. We should modify it to “Let the pets (and their patrons) alone”!

John B. Monteiro, author and journalist, is editor of his website www.welcometoreason .com (Interactive Cerebral Challenger).

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By John B. Monteiro
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Comment on this article

  • Joyline, Mangalore/Bangalore

    Thu, May 27 2010

    Why overprotect Pets ? Because pets love us unconditionally. Unlike us, they cannot express in words, but a wag of their tail says it all. To some, it may seem that we overdo. But nothing wrong in it. In order to justify,
    All we need to do is bring about laws such that people dont abandon their aged parents or abandon infant girls. If we can treat our fellow human with dignity, then it perfectly fine that we give a little extra love to those mute animals who smile with their eyes.

  • Avin Deen, Bangalore

    Mon, May 24 2010

    Some of the points mentioned in this article are to the mark. There are many dedicated pet lovers- especially Dog lovers who might end up being harassed by this not so well drafted law.
    But at the same time there are also people to whom , pets are nothing more than stamps with commercial value and they end up collecting dozens of animals only to breed them and sell their offspring in pet shops which are open right from early morning till late in the night taking no consideration of the space, nutrition or rest & sleep requirement of the animal in question. Moreover some of these animals have a very long lifespan and there is no guarantee that the pet buyer will take care of it for the entire tenure of its lifespan.

    It is more likely that the animal will be abandoned after a few years when the owner loses his fancy or has other priorities like higher education, marriage etc. Hopefully this new legislation may address this issue but I am skeptical because people (bollywood stars, ex-cricketers)can get away after killing Schedule-1 animals, so this will just be another document on paper and as the author points out may be used to harass the dedicated pet keeper who has a couple of animals, while the big shot offenders with unreasonably huge collections of animals in shabby conditions may just go scot free.

  • Reuben, Mangalore/Melbourne

    Sun, May 23 2010

    I totally agree with you Kevin. The author has a very pessimistic sense of approach towards things and this article is totally unjustified. Pets need protection from cruel owners who just mistreat them for the sake of some fun. The heading of the article itself is a total giveaway

  • Rochelle, Dubai

    Sun, May 23 2010

    Kudos kevin...well said...
    the author must have even tried tying a fire cracker to the tail of the dog who he thought is an enjoyment instrument.

  • adshenoy, mangloor

    Sun, May 23 2010

    I like dogs as pets. These are more loyal than humans in my opinion. Restrictions perhaps little overdone and may be there is abuse and also India may be copycating other nations who have restrictions in ownig pets. I agree government sholud do more to humans to eleviate poverty than spending to much money on restrictions on pets.

  • Kevin Mascarenhas, Mangalore/Sydney

    Sat, May 22 2010

    I totally disaree with the pessimistic tone of the article 'Why Overpratect Pets?'. In the first place Mr Monteiro should dwell on the subject of owners of pets. Not all owners are animal lovers. Many have a dog or cat for the fancy of their liitle kids and they are abused like toys. Many have their pets locked up in a cage 24X7 or tied to a post outside to face the harsh weather.
    I have seen many owners of cats who think having a cat is exclusive to catching rats. Moment they do not find them doing that they are put in bags and left or thrown far away many mercilessly killed.
    What the goverment is doing is putting systems in order. The conclusion that inspectors trying to take a bribe arises only when a pet owner has flouted the rules. So why have fear on that count.
    I got my dog(10yrs of age) from Dubai to Sydney and went through a six month process and one month quarantine, just to bring my family member to be with us.
    Not that I approve of all the restrictions, but some make sense. What the Indian government is doing should have been done a long time back and people in India should start getting used to respecting animals as they cannot voice their griveances.
    The muncipality officials should also be trained how to catch stray dogs in a professional way. i have witnessed very crude methods and have interfered with their tactics on one occassion.Animal welfare should go hand in hand with upliftment of the poor in India and not be an excuse instead.

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