Pet Dogs and Street Dogs: Do’s and Dont’s

Below is an article written by Mrs. Maneka Gandhi, who is the Chairperson of an organisation called, ‘People for Animals’. We happened to receive a copy of it in our Inbox from a fellow animal rescuer and deem it wise to share it on this blog of ours, since a lot of our helpline calls and e-mails are related to this subject.

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In recent times, RWAs, Apartment Owners’ Associations, and Cooperative Group Housing Societies, having taking to imposing various restrictions on pet owning residents, such as disallowing the use of lifts, or parks, by pets, or even banning pets altogether. There is widespread resentment against these moves, because not only do they unreasonably restrict the rights of residents, they are also unlawful and against recent court rulings.

Moreover, as an RWA, or an Apartment Owners’ Association, Cooperative Group Housing Society, gated complex, etc., you may often be getting complaints regarding street dogs, and requests that they be driven away, through beatings by security guards or otherwise, or just dumped elsewhere. If you accede to these requests, you will not only be violating laws and pronouncements of courts, but will not achieve any permanent solutions either. The problem will remain a perennial problem ; and you will also run afoul of animal welfare people that are increasing in number by the day, and banding themselves into well organized groups.

Below, are some DOs and DON’Ts, with respect to both, PET DOGS & STREET DOGS.

I.          WITH RESPECT TO PET DOGS & PET OWNING RESIDENTS :Please keep in mind that the following is what you CANNOT do :-

 BANNING pets, whether allowed :

a)     Even by obtaining consensus, or even if the majority of the residents want it, you cannot legally introduce any sort of ‘ban’ on the keeping of pet dogs by residents.

b)     Even by amending bye-laws 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, you interfere with a 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.

c)    If the residents that have pets are not violating any municipal or other laws, you cannot object. The general body cannot frame or amend bye-laws that are at variance with the laws of the country. Even by a complete majority, a general body cannot adopt an illegality. Please remember, you do not have the right to legislate, and ‘lay down law’ for residents, and apartment owners or even tenants.

Use of LIFTS by pets :

d)    There is a court ruling to the effect that pets cannot be disallowed from the use of lifts ; and no charges can be imposed either, by housing societies for the use of lifts by pets. In fact, it was widely reported in the news that the concerned court had ruled that “Dogs are family, can use lifts for free”. Kindly ensure that this sort of restriction is not therefore imposed – neither a ban, nor any special charges for the use of lifts by pets.

 Use of PARKS by pets :

e)    Banning pets from gardens or parks, is short-sighted. Firstly, you may or may not own the garden or park in question. It may be an MCD or DDA park, or belong to any other organization. Secondly, pets that are not properly exercised may show aggression in frustration ; and that, surely, cannot contribute to the benefit of the residents. It may be better to fix timings 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 :

f)     You can request pet owners to keep their pets on leash, when walking them in common areas. You cannot however ask for muzzles as muzzles are illegal for sustained use as dogs die through overheating. Please remember, the law already provides for penalties for negligent pet owners, which the aggrieved parties can avail of.

g)    In the absence of central or state laws requiring cleaning of pet poop by pet owners, you cannot impose any rule, regulation or bye-law, with respect to mandatory cleaning of pet poop, or impose special charges or fines on pet owners. You can, of course, request them to do so.

h)    You can also experiment with the creation of various pet defecation areas within community premises, which is what some housing societies and sectors are doing. These can be imaginatively spaced out within the precincts, and you can request pet owners to train their pets into using the same. You cannot however impose fines and special charges of any kind on pet owners, because there is no mandate in law for the same.

Intimidation :

i)     Lastly, please also always bear in mind that if any association succeeds in intimidating a pet owner into ‘giving up’ or ‘abandoning’ a pet, it will actually have contributed to a violation of law ; and may well be aggravating the menace of ownerless animals on the street, that are not accustomed to living on the street and therefore get involved in and lead to accidents, injuries and deaths. Please also bear in mind that intimidation is an offense in law.

II.         WITH RESPECT TO STREET DOGS :What you CANNOT do :-

1)         Beating and driving away street dogs, NOT ALLOWED ; animal birth control and release back into same locality/territory, ALLOWED :

As per Indian law street dogs (i.e. stray dogs) cannot be beaten or driven away or 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. For the area-wise sterilization program that the law mandates shall be followed, dogs have to be returned back to their original habitat after sterilization and immunization.

2)         The rationale behind release into the same locality/territory :

Dogs, being territorial in nature, tend to fight off other dogs, and keep them from entering their territories ; and in this manner, the dog population in each territory / within each locale, stabilizes.If, however, they are removed permanently, other dogs come into the ‘dog-free’ vacuum that is thereby created. So the ‘problem’ continues.

3)         Street dog feeding, whether inside or outside community premises :

 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. As recently as the 12th of December, 2011, stray dog feeding has been upheld yet again by the High Court, and the emphatic challenge to the same by one R.W.A., disregarded.

4)         Animal cruelty :

Please also note, animal cruelty is an offence – under Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and Section 428 of the Indian Penal Code –punishable with imprisonment and fine.

5)         Intimidation :

Attempts to interfere with, or harass persons who choose to tend to and feed community dogs, maybe tantamount to the very grave offence of criminal intimidation.

6)         Aggression to dogs, counter productive :

Last but not the least : any aggression or hostility that the dogs may be subjected to, will only render them aggressive, and hostile to humans. They may then resort to snapping and biting in self -defense. If the same happens, the human aggressors shall be the only ones to blame.

19 Comments on “Pet Dogs and Street Dogs: Do’s and Dont’s

  1. Thanks for summarizing the law. Please also provide the copies of court orders, to keep handy just in case any situation arises. I have around 6 dogs in our market for whom I continuously need to try to keep people calm about as many are unaware and/or scared of dogs moving around. I try to keep them calm and even try to help them understand the situation and that these are harmless creatures; unfortunately, many still don’t understand. The copies of the court order would help me to further help these lovely creatures survive in a better way. Thanks for the useful information. God bless

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  2. This post comes in at just the right time. Just a week back I saw e mails chian from my resident society going up and down crying loud and fowl about PETS in the Society, they should be banned etc. Am trying my best to fight for the rights of my pets ( I have a lab n a beagle and live on the 13th floor of the tower and the main society gate is roughly 700 -800 metres away from the lift landing area. Actual court rulings will perhaps ward off the so called “law makers” in our society, and may just perhaps help me getting some area allotted as the “allowed” area for my pets. Garden Area and Play area already display metal p;acards saying – PETS ARE NOT ALLOWED”.

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    • fight till the very end nitin—-good luck—pick up the poo —you have right to own look after and exercise dogs

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  3. we have a problem in our society in Bangalore with residents making it extremely difficult to take our pets out of the apartments. The most difficult being that the dogs pee out in the open. We have agreed to pick up poo but this constant picking on us is getting us down. I still carry on with my pets but feel stressed. Indira Shergill

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  4. The content specifies that if there is injury due to negligence there are penalties. What is that penalty…..? Additionally can you provide answers for :

    If maids take out big ferocious dogs like German Shepard and they run loose what is the law and how many times are the residents supposed to tolerate these incidents. ?

    What if small kids are bitten and if the consequence is as serious as death or serious fear in mind…..what does law say…?

    How can a law be framed to absolve dog owners from their responsibility to keep premises clean and fear free.

    Are laws similar in other countries.

    This one looks stupid.

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    • Letting a pet animal free irresponsibly so that it ends up harming others will make the pet owner guilty under Section 289 of Indian Penal Code. Please read through it and look for penalties under it. With regard to cleaning up after a dog poops, it depends on anti littering laws framed by the local city municipality.

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  5. Hi Team, I have adopted 2 stray puppies in Bangalore. We are nurturing them and also got the them vaccinated. I had a loud discussion with one of the neighborhood members who objected to my small children taking the dogs to walk and in turn they poo on the other side of the road outside their house. THeir house door opens to a Road which is around 60 feet wide and is parallel to the railway tracks. It is at this place in a remote corner that we have trained the dogs to poo. After threatening my children they warned me that they will report the matter to the local authorities (police) and took the photographs of my children with the dogs (in normal position). I also challenged them they can do anything they want. My question is do they have any legal case. This locality is of independent houses (villa types).

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  6. Posting on behalf of a friend:
    We have stray dogs in our society. They are fed by some members of the society. Lately, i have seen these dogs become aggressive in isolated incidents. Unfortunately last night, when I taking my post-dinner walk within the society, one of the dogs came and bit me. Luckily, I was wearing thick trousers which now bears 4 puncture holes where the dog had bit me. I have rarely, if ever, interacted with the dogs and bear no ill-will or otherwise towards them. But what am I supposed to do in this case when even if I am going about my business, they come and bite me? Upon relating this incident to others in the society, they mentioned that 4-5 others have also been bitten in a similar manner.

    What can I do here? Should I walk around with a stick now as I have been advised? I do not wish to be bitten again.

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    • Just try taking a packet of biscuits with you and offer the street dogs once without carrying any negative apprehensions about them, they will learn you bear no ill-will against them..we will also email you an awareness leaflet on the Do’s and Don’ts of behaving around street dogs. Thanks for being considerate on this subject and not resorting to revenge against the dogs.

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  7. With regards to ‘What you Cannot do’ above, points, except 5 and 6, are valid and if pondered over, are logical. However, points 5 and 6 are your own interpretation. I understand and affirm well in the thought that stray animals must be treated with compassion and we, as human beings, must always strive to care and love other creatures as well who don’t have the fortune of a comfortable and safe home. Yet, being a rational person, I can’t overlook the fact that stray dogs can particularly cause nuisance for their human neighbours as well. The problems that I’ve personally faced are as follows:

    1. Dogs, being highly territorial, often engage in aggressive fights with each other for dominance and/or mating. These fights can leave some strays as seriously injured. Who then, should take responsibility for their treatment? Clearly, a need arises for some government organisation or NGO to take responsibility for the same in a defined manner instead of people taking it upon themselves without having any adequate knowledge to do so.

    2. The aggressive behaviour of dogs often translates to the aggression being directed towards people as well. They can bark down people out on evening walks, try and intimidate joggers or even bite in extreme, yet certainly not infrequent, cases (more so when the litter is around some place frequented by people).

    3. The risk of Rabies associated with stray dog bites is quite high in India, as dogs are often not sterilized. Rabies, for those who aren’t aware, is a dangerous viral infection with the potential of death being a strong possibility if not treated fully. Don’t treat the disease as any less threatening than Chikunguniya or Dengue.

    4. Dogs exhibit high nocturnal activity. The pack fights which break out at night can easily disturb anyone’s sleep. Also, the howling of the dogs at night can be a significant disturbance and cause tangible discomfort for people who suffer from sleep related disorders.

    What should be done in light of the above problems? Have you thought about them? How should they be dealt with in a real world scenario?

    (I won’t count ‘befriending the dogs’ as a valid solution as an aggressive dog responds little to attempts of appeasement. It is however an admirable practise but not everyone has enough time to follow it through in-order to really make friends out of stays in their locality).

    Looking forward to a meaningful response.

    ~Abhineet

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    • Hi. The solution that we advice Street dog caretakers as a remedy to all case scenarios described by you above in Points 1 to 4 is GET THE STREET DOGS IN YOUR AREA/THE ONES YOU CARE FOR STERILIZED AND VACCINATED AS THAT WOULD REDUCE TERRITORIAL OR MATING SEASON RELATED FIGHTS SO NO INJURED DOGS, NO HOWLING AT NIGHTS, NO THREAT OF BITES OR RABIES. STERILISATION OF DOGS HAS SO MANY ADVANTAGES THAT YOU SHOULD ACTUALLY SEE A COLONY WHERE MAJORITY OF DOGS ARE STERILIZED TO UNDERSTAND THE RATIONALE. THE DOGS ARE SO CALM GENERALLY IN THOSE AREAS THAT NONE OF THESE SAD SCENARIOS EXIST IN THERE.

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  8. We have a big problem of street dogs in our locality. They are about 50-60 in numbers and multiplying. They have some how made the front yard of our house as their defaecating place. It has become unbearable for us to come in and out of the house. While I have no particular problem with dogs but the poop around makes me as well as other residents worry about the health hazards that they may cause. There are huge number of dog lovers in the colony which keep on feeding them ( away from their homes). They dont allow any NGO to take the dogs for sterilzation too. Any good solution or best practices for this?

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  9. From Gurgaon.

    I tried feeding the dogs thinking that they may not want to defecate on the place where they eat, but the problem persists.

    I am really interested in knowing some best practices so that the residents live in harmony and free from health hazards.

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    • With defecation do you mean urination or pooping? Urination is for territorial marking and canines and felines do not mind doing so at the places they eat either…

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