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UPSC NOTE

 Complex and conflicting issues surrounding dogs in India 

  • The relationship between dogs and their place in society opens up vexing dilemmas in India. 

  • On one hand there is the problem of street dogs

  • Citizens all over the country may complain about their residential colonies being under attack by roving canines.

  • But this has not yet spurred any significant political response to enforce existing municipal laws to contain their numbers. 

  • On the other hand, it seems that even pet dogs too have managed to raise an entirely different class of concerns meriting the attention of a

central government ministry and two High Courts. 

  • Among the questions being deliberated upon is whether certain breeds of dogs are inherently more “ferocious” than others. 

  • An expert committee constituted by the Department of Animal Welfare and Husbandry, Ministry of Agriculture, has recommended that certain breeds of “ferocious dogs” be prohibited from being kept as pets. 

  • Such a committee was constituted after citizen groups complained of attacks on people — sometimes fatal — by these dogs, which prompted a petition in the Delhi High Court requesting it to ban certain breeds.

Problem of street dogs and pet dogs

  • Street dogs and pet dogs can present a complex set of problems in some communities. 

Street Dogs

  • Public Health: Unvaccinated street dogs can carry diseases like rabies, posing a threat to humans and other animals

  • Rabies is a major concern, especially in areas with large stray dog populations.

  • Animal Welfare: Street dogs often face harsh conditions, struggling to find food and water.

  • They are susceptible to malnutrition, injuries, and disease.

  • Safety Concerns: Dog bites can occur, particularly during fights among strays, posing a risk to people in the vicinity.

  • Conflict with Humans: Scrambling for food, street dogs might raid garbage or approach people, leading to tension.

Pet Dogs

  • Irresponsible Ownership: When pet owners abandon their dogs or allow them to roam freely, it contributes to the stray dog population.

  • Public Nuisance: Unruly pets can bark excessively, damage property, or become aggressive, creating problems for neighbours.

  • Lack of Sanitation: Pet owners who don't clean up after their dogs contribute to an unsanitary environment.

Proposed breed ban - Arguments against breed ban

  • These include mixed and crossbreeds such as Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Fila Brasileiro, Dogo Argentino, American Bulldog, Boerboel, Kangal, Central Asian Shepherd Dog, among others. 

  • These rules are expected to be implemented by local authorities

  • Dogs that have already been kept as pets must be sterilised to ensure that further breeding does not happen. 

  • The Karnataka High Court recently stayed the government order after some petitioners objected that the government department move was unilateral.

  • This did not encompass a wide enough spectrum of expert bodies. 

  • The Kennel Club of India, a body that deals with registering purebreeds, could stand to be at a disadvantage by this decision. 

  • Years of observation and insight into the temperament of dogs have shown that ferocity and aggressiveness are a result of both environmental and behavioural factors

  • Thus, the age, sex, size, familiarity with other dogs, the way it is trained, and the circumstances that provoke aggression all contribute to ferocity

  • That said, several countries have banned certain breeds or have imposed stringent conditions to own or maintain certain dog breeds. 

  • None of these countries anyway permits street dogs in the way India does and so the regulations are premised on higher standards of public safety than in India

  • Thus, the existence or absence of certain breeds of dogs is less likely to make a difference to public safety than making dog owners more liable for harm caused

  • While individual choice in choosing and raising pets matters, it is by no means an unbridled right.

Limits of pet ownership

  • In India, pet ownership has some legal limitations and social considerations:

Legal Limits:

  • No Blanket Bans: Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) cannot completely ban pets in apartments/societies.

  • Societal Rules: Societies can have reasonable pet ownership regulations. 

  • These might include limitations on the number of pets per household, pet waste disposal guidelines, or leash requirements.

  • General Welfare: The law prioritizes animal well-being. 

  • Owners must provide proper care, and failure to do so can lead to legal action or pet removal.

Social Considerations:

  • Space Constraints: Many Indian dwellings are on the smaller side, which can limit the suitability for certain large dog breeds.

  • Cultural Attitudes: While pet ownership is increasingly popular, traditional views about animals might influence pet acceptance in some communities.


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