Guidelines for Pet Owners
- Pet owners rightly consider their pets as family members. A pet is akin to a perennial toddler and therefore deserves the same attention throughout its life as that reserved for a human toddler during infancy. However, pet owners are advised to ensure that their pets are not a source of nuisance to others. In doing so, they may, however, distinguish between reasonable and unreasonable, and lawful and unlawful claims as to their pets being a source of nuisance; and no amount of pressure should lead to an abandonment of a pet animal. Doing so is a violation of the law.
- Barking is a natural form of expression for a dog, and must and has to be tolerated in a society. However, incessant barking can disturb neighbours. Hence, pet owners are advised to make every effort to keep their dogs quiet, particularly during night hours.
- Pet owners are advised to ensure that their pets are healthy and clean. Adequate health care and regular vaccinations need to be ensured. Sterilization is advised as our country has an excessive dog population.
- Pet owners, or the other caregivers or dog walkers they entrust their pets to, are advised to either clean up when the pet defecates on public premises or participate in other solutions for maintaining cleanliness.
- Leashing of pets in public places is advisable. Leashing of dogs assures passers that they are safe and makes them more comfortable when walking near an owner with his pet dog on a leash. Leashing also ensures the safety of the pet from being run over by vehicles on streets, or worse still, being the cause of accidents.
- Dog Parents cannot be debarred by RWAs or Apartment Owners' Associations from the use of lifts or elevators for their dogs, though they are advised not to object to the use of alternate lifts if there is more than one working lift or elevator in a building, which is conveniently accessible.
Guidelines for Caregivers of Street Dogs:
- Caregivers are advised not to feed street dogs close to residences, not their own. They are also advised to avoid feeding street dogs immediately adjacent to areas in which children play, or people take walks, or that are otherwise crowded. Moreover, feeding must not be done in a manner that contributes to littering, or dirtying any feeding site. Caregivers are advised to clean up feeding sites after feeding is over.
- Caregivers are advised to keep the sterilization and vaccination status of the dogs they feed and care for updated and readily accessible. Sharing the same with their resident’s welfare associations or other residents, generates positivity, and greater acceptability of the dogs.
- Caregivers cannot control the defecation habits of the strays. However, they are advised to participate in other solutions for maintaining cleanliness.
Guidelines for Residents Welfare Associations, Apartment Owners Associations
I) With Respect To Dog Parents
- Residents Welfare Associations and apartment Owners associations cannot legally introduce any sort of 'ban' on the keeping of pet dogs. They cannot insist that ‘small-sized dogs are acceptable’, and 'large-sized dogs’ are not.
- If the residents or occupants that have pets are not violating any municipal or other laws, it is not permissible for residents’ welfare associations & apartment owners’ associations to object to them having pets as companions. The general body cannot frame bye-laws or amend them in a manner that is at variance with the laws of the country. Even by complete majority, a general body cannot adopt an illegality
- Amending bylaws or regulations or otherwise, such a "ban" cannot be put into place since it is illegal, and does not have the sanction of law. In fact, in trying to "ban" pets, or limit their number, residents' welfare associations & apartment owners associations interfere with fundamental freedom guaranteed to the citizens of India, i.e. the freedom to choose the life they wish to live, which includes facets such as living with or without companion animals.
Use of Common Society Utilities
- Residents welfare associations & apartment owners associations cannot disallow pets from the use of lifts, and no charges can be imposed by them either.
- Seeking to ban pets from gardens or parks, is short-sighted. Firstly, one may or may not have any manner of right over the garden or park in question. Secondly, pets that are not properly exercised may exhibit aggressive conduct in frustration; and that cannot contribute to the benefit of the residents. It may be better to arrive by consensus at times acceptable to all residents when pets can be walked without inconvenience to other residents. These timings can then be intimated to the general body.
💡 Use of leashes & muzzles by pet owners, defecation by pets in community premises, imposition of fines, and other similar measures:
- Pet owners are advised to and must leash their pets in all common areas. However, residents welfare associations & apartment owners’ associations cannot insist on the use of muzzles. Please do remember, that the law already provides for penalties for negligent pet owners, which the aggrieved parties can avail of.
- In the absence of central or state laws requiring cleaning of pet excreta by pet owners, residents welfare associations & apartment owners associations cannot impose any rule, regulation, or by-law, with respect to the same, or impose special charges or fines on pet owners. They can, however, request them to do so. The Board also recommends and advises all dog-owning residents to accept reasonable and lawful requests to participate in solutions aimed at peaceful community living
- Pet owners are advised to ‘scoop the poop’, or together with residents’ welfare associations & apartment owners associations, and other residents, experiment with the creation of pet defecation areas within community premises, or arrive at other imaginative solutions through consensus. Residents welfare associations & apartment owners associations cannot however impose fines and special charges of any kind on pet owners, because there is no mandate in law for the same.
II) WITH RESPECT TO STREET DOGS:
- As per Indian law street dogs (i.e. stray dogs) cannot be beaten or driven away dumped elsewhere or killed. They can merely be sterilized in the manner envisaged in the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001, vaccinated, and then returned back to their original locations. Dogs have to be returned to their original habitat after sterilization and immunization for the area-wise sterilization program that the law mandates shall be followed.
- There is no law that prohibits the feeding of street animals. Citizens who choose to do so are in fact performing a duty cast upon them by the Constitution of India of showing compassion to all living creatures.
- Animal cruelty is an offense under Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and Sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code- punishable with imprisonment and a fine. Attempts to interfere with, or harass persons who choose to look after and feed community dogs, are equivalent to the grave offense of criminal intimidation.
- Aggression or hostility that the dogs may be subjected to, may render them aggressive, and hostile to humans. They may then resort to snapping and hitting in self-defense. If the same happens, the human aggressors shall be the only ones to blame.