‘Pet policy arbitrary, unjust’: Over 50 dog owners protest against Gurgaon civic body

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Days after the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) directed pet dog owners in the city to register all dogs within municipal limits or risk dogs being “detained” in its custody with a public notice stating that such dogs shall be liable to be “destroyed or otherwise disposed of” unless they are claimed, a group of owners staged a protest in Gurgaon against the directives, slamming them as arbitrary and in violation of the law.

A group of over 50 dog owners protested in the parking area of Leisure Valley in sector 29 on Sunday afternoon, alleging that the civic body was trying to enforce “unjust” guidelines that were violative of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, advisories of Animal Welfare Board of India, and in contempt of recent orders of the High Court.

“We do not have a problem with registration. But, the authorities are enforcing strange rules such as ‘one family to keep only one dog’. Restricting the number of pet dogs a family can have is unconstitutional. The MCG is also asking pet dog owners of foreign breeds for lineage, pet book and documents of importers for a licence for registration. If I have rescued or adopted an abandoned dog of a foreign breed, I can only produce adoption and vaccination-related documents. How will I procure import papers if I have rescued a dog of a foreign breed off the street and why is lineage required to collect data for registration?” asked Nikhil Mahesh, a dog behaviourist, who runs an NGO for pet dogs in Baliawas village.

He added that the authorities must have a discussion with pet owners before bringing in “arbitrary policies”.

“Some of the foreign breeds, which were put on a banned list, in the consumer forum order are docile in nature. Certain breeds can have some traits, but they cannot be branded as ‘aggressive’ or ‘ferocious’ as a blanket term. The temperament of a dog depends on upbringing, and training among other factors,” he said.

Amritika Phool, a pet owner who has eight dogs, including a German Shepherd, said, “Illegal breeding of dogs is rampant in Gurgaon. Dogs of foreign, mixed breeds are bred and sold. The authorities are doing nothing to stop illegal breeding, instead, they are going after pet parents, who rescue and adopt these abandoned breeds. What is the status of sterilisation being done by MCG and what does it mean that unclaimed dogs shall be ‘destroyed’? It is illegal to do so…and all this has created a frenzy among pet owners. We just want the law of land to be followed.”

Residents said they had been left worried and anxious after a public notice, directing pet owners to comply with bye-laws of the Haryana Municipal Corporation Act-1994, put out by the MCG last week, said that unregistered dogs shall be detained and that any such dog shall be liable to be “destroyed or otherwise disposed of” unless claimed and a fee paid within a week.

A dog owner, requesting anonymity, said the MCG must clearly define what constitutes ‘public nuisance’ and fix a nominal fee for registration and for fines in case of non-compliance. “In the event of confusion, such rules can be misinterpreted by RWAs and lead to arbitrary fines being charged for say not muzzling a pet. So, SOPs must be clear,” said the owner.

On November 15, the district consumer disputes redressal forum in Gurgaon had issued directions to the MCG to ban pet dogs of 11 breeds – American Pit-bull Terriers, Dogo Argentino, Rottweiller, Neapolitan Mastiff, Boerboel, Presa Canario, Wolf Dog, Bandog, American Bulldog, Fila Brasileiro and Cane Corso. The commission had also directed the civic body to ensure that one family will keep one dog as a pet, to take all stray dogs in its custody and that all registered dogs shall wear a collar attached to a metal token and a muzzle in public places. On November 30, the Punjab and Haryana High Court stayed the order of the commission.



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