It comes at a time when crimes against animals are rising, say animal lovers, adding that it will ensure they are not ill-treated
Animal rights activists and dog lovers on Thursday welcomed the Delhi High Court ruling that stray or street dogs have the right to food and citizens have the right to feed them. Feeding stray dogs has been an issue that has polarised opinions in the city for a long time and has led to fights in neighbourhoods.
Many of them are relieved after the ruling. Avinash Singh, a resident of Sector 20 in Noida, says he was attacked by his neighbour a year ago for feeding street dogs outside his house. He registered an FIR against his neighbour and is still pursuing the case. “Dogs are not a nuisance but they are man’s best friend. I was attacked by my neighbour a year ago for feeding street dog outside my house. No one has right to hurt dogs, they also have a place in the planet like other creatures,” Mr. Singh said.
Similarly, Nazia Shakeel, a resident of Mayur Vihar, said that she once filed a complaint against her neighbour for killing two puppies of a street dog. “Even police tried to hush the case. I feed dogs in my society from my personal money every day and I get satisfaction. If people are not feeding dogs then they should not stop those who are feeding and loving them,” said Ms. Shakeel.
Animal rights groups feel communities need to accept that it is their responsibility to take care of stray dogs. “Dogs and cats have been domesticated by humans from their wild ancestors and are on the streets because of us. We have made them dependent on humans for food, water and care. We commend the Delhi HC for acknowledging it,” said Manilal Valliyate, CEO of PETA India.
He added that without human help, community dogs and cats face starvation, dehydration, untreated wounds and injuries, and people should be encouraged to opt to adopt a dog or cat in need from an animal shelter or the street.
Animal activist and lawyer Gauri Puri said that despite laws and guidelines protecting rights of community dogs in India, the implementation and enforcement is weak and often, efforts of animal activists to seek enforcement of such laws have been rendered insignificant.
“The judgment sets a much-needed precedent that strikes a defined balance between the constitutional obligation of the statutory authorities to protect community animals vis-à-vis the fundamental duties, moral and social responsibility of RWAs to ensure that statutory protection is provided to community animals,” Ms. Puri said, adding that, crimes against animals have substantially increased and most of these are against community dogs who do not have a permanent caretaker or owner.
She feels that the judgment sensitises the issues pertaining to animals and gives much hope to animal lovers. “By directing the police to ensure no animal feeder is harassed or prohibited by the RWA, this judgment would go a long way in aiding the animal feeders to ensure action by the police in case of any harassment. It would be interesting to see how RWAs deal with this moral and social responsibility towards animal welfare,” Ms. Puri said
Divya Puri, founder of Karan Puri Foundation that runs a community kitchen feeding 450 animals a day and works with municipal corporations for sterilisation and vaccination of animals, said that with the recent spike in cases of harassment and cruelty towards animals, the court order will make it easier to fight for the rights of our animals.
“Justice R. Midha gave an 86-page long judgment where he emphasised and reiterated on various guidelines issued by Animal Welfare Board of India for stray animals. Right to food, water and treatment, protection of caretakers and involvement of RWA/municipal body as a community to look after strays is a welcome step towards peaceful coexistence,” she said.
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