Dogs are wonderful creatures, perhaps the best that God had to offer. As per mythology dogs are considered as protectors of the gates of heaven as well hell. Lord Dattatray is associated with four dogs, which symbolizes the four Vedas. Black dogs are considered to be the incarnation of God Bhairava. In Mahabharat, Yudhishthira insisted that the dog should be allowed to enter heaven. Nepal has a dog festival that is celebrated to thank dogs for their loyalty and protection. All the major religions teach us to be kind to dogs and take care of them.
However, our society is extremely divided when it comes to community dog issues. The first group includes people who do not care about dogs (it is not necessarily a bad thing though), whether they are around or not. Thankfully this group always has the majority. The second group that is very easy to identify is the one who likes to stay away from dogs. Perhaps due to some incident that happened in their childhood (dog chase or dog bite), they are scared of even puppies. There is a sub-class in this group. A small percentage of this second group turns out to be animal haters, henceforth shall be called Animal Haters. And the majority can co-exist with dogs as long as they maintain social distancing. There is this third group who is animal lovers, henceforth shall be called Animal Lovers, who may or may not have a pet dog at home, but still take active participation in dog welfare activities like vaccination, neutering, feeding, medical treatment and most importantly caring for them.
Especially when a new residential complex is built, there is always some fight between Animal Lovers and Animal Haters.
There are 2 reasons why there is a fight;
Unwillingness to co-exist with the community dogs
Ignorance of prevailing laws that protect animal rights
1. Unwillingness to co-exist with the community dogs
Animal Haters do not want to co-exist with the community dogs. As they had to pay a huge amount to purchase the new house, probably they had to sell their humanity to arrange for the down payment. They do everything in their power to stop dog feeders from feeding the dogs. They come as a group and hurl abuses. They ridicule the feeders for their work. They taunt the feeders that if they care so much about the dogs, then why don’t they take all of them home. They don’t understand that dogs are territorial animals. They are naïve to expect that all the packs would just walk to the feeding spot, eat the food together and go back to their territory without any fight. They would rather let starve the dogs to death than let feeders feed them.
2. Ignorance of prevailing laws that protect animal rights
Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) is a government entity that works for animal rights protection. It has provided all the guidelines and laws related to community animals. Hurting, starving, poisoning animals are punishable offenses as per Section 11(1), Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. It is the housing society’s responsibility to provide food and water in the absence of feeders as per CS(OS) 277/2020, Order dtd. 24.06.2021, Delhi High Court, Article 51A(g) of the Indian Constitution. Lifts, parks, public areas shall be made available to pets as per WP(C) 13603/2021 Order dtd. 02.11.2021, Kerala High Court. Threatening feeders physically or emotionally is a crime as per Article 51A(g) of the Indian Constitution, Section 506, IPC. Government employees who indulge in any act of cruelty to animals may lose their job as per Circular issued by the Dept. of Personnel & Training, Office Memorandum, Letter No. F.No. 30/09/2006-Welfare, dtd. 26th May 2006. These are the select laws applicable. But animal haters are ignorant about the animal rights protection laws.
They believe that where there is people's movement, no dogs can be fed. However, New Delhi High Court judgment dated 24-06-2021, clearly states that the feeding spots being frequented by residents shall not be an excuse to avoid demarcating these areas as feeding areas.
In the last 6 months, I have heard this phrase several times from Animal Haters, that is “I have/had a dog for several years. So I am not a dog hater”. These guys usually belong to the pet parent groups. These guys usually start off well as Animal Lovers. But soon they realize that they love only their pet and not the community dogs.
Our society is pro-human. The Animal Haters to Animal Lovers ratio is typically 10:1. Hence it takes a great deal of courage to fight for the rights of animals, not only against Animal Haters but also the System, which, despite having clearly defined laws, chooses to suppress the voice of voiceless animals.
So how to win over the Animal Haters who believe that the majority shall decide whether community dogs live or die? It is quite simpler than many think. The first thing one needs to do is get acquainted with the different laws, guidelines, and court judgments regarding these matters. Secondly contact an NGO that works for animal welfare, like PFA (People For Animals). Thirdly do not hesitate to file NCR or FIR against the Animal Haters. Police, in most cases, are unaware of the laws that protect animal rights. Hence one needs to educate the police as well. And finally, believe in our constitution and do not argue with the Animal Haters, but make sure to video record, whatever rubbish they have to say while they are harassing you. These fights usually die off after a few months, if one follows the above steps.
To summarize, if you are a feeder, then it’s not enough that you have compassion for the community animals, you must also be aware of Animal Rights and must not hesitate to object to any animal rights violations.
Ajay S. Satpute
28th February 2022