Recent reports on the increasing cases of animal abuse are nothing less than appalling and cruelty seems to be the order of the day for several such perpetrators.
From brutal stoning to being burnt alive, assaults, rape and more, innocent animals are facing the brunt of this all.
In Pune, a case was registered where four stray dogs were burnt alive and sixteen others were poisoned. Reports claimed that there were people who have admitted to this “for fun”. Cases of animal cruelty during festivals like Diwali and Holi have also come to light.
Several city based NGO’s, animal rights organizations and individuals have raised an alarm and asked for strict action against these cruel perpetrators.
Meher Mathrani, Animal Welfare Officer (Pune) and head, AaCT India, believes that cruelty against animals has drastically increased in Pune.
“Every month around 80 to 100 cases of animal cruelty are registered, ranging from non-cognizable offences to cognizable ones. This not only involves street dogs, but also domestic pets.
However, the number is much more if one takes into account illegal slaughter. Out of these, dogs and farm animals meant for slaughter face tremendous cruelty.
Cognizable offences under PCA Act 1962 include the following:
a) Under Section 12 of the PCA Act, 1962, injecting oxytocin injections to cows/milch animals, to improve lactation/milk-giving capacity – which is injurious to health of the animal or permitting such operation to be performed by any other person on the animal he/she ‘owns’ is a cognizable offence. However, this may be one of the most common things that you see used by local legal/illegal dairy owners throughout the country.
b) Under Section 11(1)(l), mutilating or killing any animal, including stray dogs by using poisoning methods or any other unnecessarily cruel means
c) Under Section 11(1)(n) organizing/keeping/using any place for animal fighting/baiting and receiving money on the same.
d) Under Section 11(1)(o), promoting or taking part in any shooting match or competition wherein animals are released from captivity for the purpose of shooting/killing.
“There is a trend now to buy animal breeds as a status symbol. Dog breeds like Belgian Malinois and Tibetan Mastiffs who need firm control are bought on a whim and then expected to behave like lap dogs. When they behave true to their breed, the family can’t handle them and they are then shunted from home or abandoned. It’s a real shame because these breeds are really difficult to re-home and usually end up in a shelter for the rest of their lives. Other breeds like Pugs, German Shepherds and even Labradors are suffering genetic disorders due to constant breeding,” she says.
Speaking about active participation by individuals towards animal welfare she says, “There has been negligible participation on the part of the public when it comes to animal safety. I, as an Animal Welfare Officer try to sensitise people and create awareness among them through various articles, workshops and addressing students and people in general.
Although animal welfare is covered under the CSR activity of a corporate, there are hardly any companies donating for animal welfare.
“Also the norms enlisted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act 1960, is not enough to safeguard the animals. The laws need to be strengthened and the current penalties are ludicrous. The offences should be made cognizable, implemented properly by the officials and tighter laws for illegal slaughter should be in place,” adds Mathrani.
Under the PCA Act, the person shall be punishable with fine which shall not be less than Rs 10 but which may extend to Rs 50, in the case of first-time offence and in the case of a second or subsequent offence committed within three years of the previous offence, with fine which shall not be less than Rs 25 but which may extend, to Rs 100 or with imprisonment for a term which may extend, to three months; or both.
If an animal is killed, the offence would attract three months imprisonment and Rs 1,000 fine. If booked under IPC 429, it will attract five years of imprisonment.
For cruelty to animals under the Wildlife Act like Peacocks, which is a non-cognisable and non-compoundable offence, the maximum punishment as per Section 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act, is six years, or a fine of Rs 25,000 or both.
In the case of snakes Sections 9 and 39 of the Wildlife Protection Act is applicable and it is a non-bailable offence.
Knowing the law and acting accordingly is the key. In some cases many culprits wash their hands off by just paying a sum of Rs 50. The officials are also sometimes unaware about the charges to be filed and the punishments to be granted to the offender.
“Any violation of PCA ACT 1960 and violation of Animal Birth Control Rules (dog), violations of dog breeder rules and other acts and rules pertaining to farm animals is cruelty,” says Mathrani.
Opining on the increasing animal population in the city and their harmful effects to humans, she says, “Various programs to control the population of street community dogs should be aggressively implemented by the PMC, so that animals and humans live in harmony. The new breeder’s laws passed by the government can be a ray of hope to help curb breeding to a great extent and adequate education and awareness will help citizens make the right choice whilst bringing a pet home.”
“If anyone sights someone abusing an animal or see them injured, they should contact 100 to report the incident and wait for the police to response. Citizens should contact animal welfare officers for solutions to their grievances if they are troubled in any way by animals. At the same time they should accept that there are laws and we have to work within their framework,” she adds.
Proposing a safer environment for humans and animals, Uma Karve, Editor ‘Tell Tail’ suggests, “Sensitizing people against animal cruelty is a job that belongs to everybody associated with the animal world.
By talking to people, by getting more children to understand that all dogs are not bad and letting them spend time with dogs, helps. All interactions however should be done under adult supervision.”
Section 43 of Criminal Procedure Code empowers every citizen the right to perform a ‘citizen’s arrest’ i.e the right to arrest a person who has committed in their presence a ‘cognizable’ offence, an offence for which the offender can be arrested without a warrant. Getting a vet’s certificate for the animal in consideration would also prove to be good documentary and supporting evidence.
Talking on the bigger picture and the urgent action plan she says, “We first need to define what constitutes abuse, threat, neglect and cruelty. The government should frame laws accordingly and appoint officers to enforce it. To control, rather to check animal abuse we need better laws and trained people dedicated to deal with this branch.
“Adopting pets is part of the solution.
But the urgent need of the hour is having a really strong, consistent and focused sterilization and anti-rabies programme in place,” adds Uma.
Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @KaurKaur18
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