We often receive requests from large Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) and managing committees to remove stray dogs from their societies and gated communities. We always refuse. Why?
Because relocating stray dogs from one area to another is illegal.
VOSD is the world’s largest no-kill rescue and sanctuary, and the largest provider of legal and medical expertise on stray dogs.
We would like to explain the legal framework for stray dogs so that everyone can understand their rights. Here we also explain what you can and cannot do when it comes to trying to “manage” the population of strays.
A legal framework for stray dogs.
Any law created by any body of people cannot be in violation of a higher constitutional authority. We have discussed this in our article about dogs using elevators. You can read that here.
A managing committee’s bye-laws can’t be ultra vires with those of the civic authority i.e. BBMP/any municipal corporation.
Municipal corporations in turn cannot implement laws that go against established state laws. Central laws cannot got against the Fundamental Rights that are listed in the Constitution of India.
‘Stray Dog Matters’
Displacement of dogs, feeding of dogs, guardianship of stray dogs and so on have been settled in High Court decisions that we cite below. Most of these come from the Animal Birth Control Act 2001, revised in 2015. This is important because any High Court decision in one state is an interpretation of the law and is binding on all other states, unless it has been explicitly stayed/ turned by the High Court of that state or the Supreme Court.
The High Court of Karnataka initially listened to petitions regarding the removal of stray dogs. They then changed their stance to state that one cannot relocate a stray dog unless the dog is “furious”. This stipulation is ambiguous at best and harmful at worst. The Supreme Court stayed this ruling thanks to a series of petitions and stays from across India. This is collectively known as ‘Stray Dog Matters’.
Legal Precedence & Orders
Punjab & Haryana High Court
In Sonia Rogers vs State of Haryana & Ors., the Court settled the matter of individuals being within their rights to take care of stray dogs including ABC and tending to them. The High Court said this is not just a right but a civic duty.
Delhi High Court
Sonya Ghosh vs State of New Delhi & Others.
The Court settled the matter of stray dogs being fed by caretakers in residential areas. The High Court said stray dogs can be fed in neighbourhoods. They specified that conflicts could be avoided by concerned parties if they specify a time and area to feed these dogs.
In the same case, the Court settled the matter of access/ removal of stray dogs from public areas such as public parks.
Mumbai High Court
Supreme Court stayed the Mumbai High Court order on the elimination of ‘nuisance’ dogs.
Allahabad High Court
Allahabad High Court disregarded ambiguous views of the Himachal High Court and Karnataka High Court orders and gave an unequivocal order that the structure to deal with stray dogs is within Animal Birth Control Rule 2001. Read more here.
In a 2015 Bangalore case in Jal Vayu Vihar, the MC decided to pass a motion to remove animals from the complex. The residents of the building lodged a FIR and the Chairman of the MC was arrested and set out on bail. This was even though this was mostly cats, and they do not have any laws written specifically for them, so it is more difficult to make out a case.
A quick guide to solving these problems peacefully
Sterilise or neuter stray dogs
Neuter dogs as per ABC rules. Municipal corporations and relevant NGOs in the city can help (Example: BBMP in Bengaluru). Involve community dog lovers to coordinate and ensure pickup of dogs for sterilisation. Ensure that the stray dogs will be brought back to the same location after they recover from surgery (usually within 4 to 5 days). Safe sterilisation and peacefully/strategically controlling entry and exit in complexes will help overturn continual interbreeding of these dogs and reduce the human-dog conflicts in your locality.
Create a safe space for dogs to get fed
Determine a time and location where community dog lovers can come and feed stray dogs. Dogs that are well fed will spend most of their time resting instead of scavenging. It’s a win-win situation!
Choose a shady and comfortable place
Dogs that are taking shelter at a specific location are doing so because it’s a comfortable and cosy space. Giving dogs that comfort will go a long way in encouraging peaceful dog-human relationships.
Educate fellow residents. When people understand the logic behind the previous steps, it will be hard for them to cause conflict. Take the time to reasonably explain your stance.
VOSD: Creating a safe environment for people must include creating a safe environment for dogs
The VOSD Sanctuary houses over 800 dogs. Most people bring dogs to us for either medical reasons or perceived “aggression”. All the dogs live without chains in the midst of other dogs and people. But dogs don’t need to come to us when you can help them in your own locations. Company offices and campuses like Wipro and IIM Indore have implemented these recommendations and have witnessed the positive impacts. At VOSD, we have set processes that allow for safe surrender of dogs, but we continue to advocate for the creation of self sustaining environments that take into account harmless stray animals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to surrender a stray or pet dog to the VOSD Sanctuary.
Please share this information in all your groups on social sites like FB, Twitter, etc and Whatsapp groups. We need to spread awareness about the current laws related to Stray Dogs in India to stop the cruelty to stray dogs.
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