March 12, 2022

Good morning. Every Saturday, we write about one specific right that you possess as a citizen in our country. In today’s edition of “Know Your Rights”, we look at the rights of pets and pet owners in India.


Rights of Pets and Pet Owners

From Paris Hilton’s pink puppy mansion for her Pomeranians to the Nawab of Junagadh inviting Lord Irwin to grace his dog’s wedding, man and beast have always had a special relationship. So obviously, the rules and regulations that we choose to run society on will have a special mention of our furry, scaly or feathered friends.

In India, as per the data provided by the India International Pet Trade Fair, around 60,000 new pets are adopted every year. Clearly, we’re pretty enthusiastic about our animals, and parts of our Constitution seem to mimic that vivacity as well. Animals, in general, are entitled to a prosperous and healthy life, and the following 3 articles ensure that:

  • Article 51A (G) says that it is our fundamental duty to protect wildlife and empathetically treat all living organisms of the nation.
  • Article 48 talks about agriculture and animal husbandry. It specifically covers the State’s duty to make sure these things take place in a scientific manner so as to not hurt a living organism.
  • Article 48A goes over the State’s duty to protect, improve and safeguard all forests and wildlife of the country.

There have been several laws, and sections of laws, written based on these duties put forward by the Constitution. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, is one of them. Considered as one of the most comprehensive laws in the country, this Act seeks to restrict any undesirable pain and suffering caused to an animal. The Indian Penal Code also has a bunch of sections talking about animal rights. Any violation of which can lead to either imprisonment or a fine.

When it comes to pets and their owners, specifically, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has set up some guidelines and rules that must be adhered to. The guidelines for pet owners are listed below:

  • Considering pets are treated like family members, a pet owner cannot be forced to abandon their pet. While the owner has to make sure that the pet isn’t considered an unreasonable nuisance to society, even if it is considered a nuisance by others, no amount of pressure can be put on a pet owner to get rid of their pets.
  • When it comes to dogs, barking is their natural form of communication. Thus, barking, however loud, has to be tolerated by society. Again, a pet owner must try to keep their dogs quiet, at least during the night, but barking cannot be a valid reason to ban dogs from society.
  • While sterilisation is advised for pets, it is still not compulsory. What is necessary though, is the pet’s health and regular vaccinations. One must ensure their pets have gotten all their vaccines at regular intervals.
  • Unless there is a specific state law, like in Bangalore, independent associations and societies cannot impose fines and regulations about pet faeces and how they get cleaned up. Though, owners are advised to pick up after their animals.
  • While leashing your animals is advised for the safety of both the animal and those around them, forcing muzzles on them, outside of a veterinary clinic, is not allowed. In most cases, adding restrictive accoutrements like muzzles agitates the animal even more.
  • Apartments also cannot “ban” your pets from using lifts in the buildings. Unless there are specific lifts set up for your pets to use, keeping them from using elevators has no basis in anything other than dogma and is not allowed.

Aside from these, the guidelines also talk about how putting up a complete “ban” on pets is simply not legally sanctioned. Even if a majority of the members in an apartment’s association agree to a ban, placing a blanket ban on allowing pets on the premises is not allowed. Unless the pet owner or their pet is blatantly disregarding a municipal or state law, the pets are allowed a home. Doesn’t matter how big the majority is, an independent body cannot “adopt an illegality”.

Pets also cannot be barred from entering a park. Animals, especially dogs, can get fairly agitated without ample exercise and thus, might exhibit aggressive behaviour. Since, in an urban setting, parks are the only bits of green land that pets can run around in, barring them from that makes little sense. Instead of banning them completely, pet-friendly timings can be put in place to avoid any inconvenience.

So, what happens if your apartment society or just any other person, for that matter, continues to violate these guidelines, even after they’ve been informed of them? Well then, my friend, what you have is a case. You can consult a legal expert to deal with the situation immediately.