Group Urges Police to Take Action Against Those Abandoning Animals Over Unwarranted Coronavirus Fears & to Ensure Animals in Pet Shops are Fed
New Delhi – Following stories of dog and cat abandonment over unwarranted coronavirus fears, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India has fired off a letter to the Director Generals of Police of state governments and union territories across India, urging them to direct police officers to book anyone who abandons their companion animals and to take action against any “pet” shops leaving animals to starve, as was also advised by the central government body Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) in its advisories dated 11 March, 23 March and 24 March 2020.
A copy of PETA India’s letter and AWBI advisories can be downloaded or viewed here:
“Breeders and pet stores sell animals to anyone willing to buy them, no matter their ability to care for animals, and now there is concern that both pet shops and the people who buy animals from them, often on a whim, are either neglecting or abandoning animals in their care,” says PETA India Associate Manager of Emergency Response Team, Meet Ashar. “A dog or a cat is not for those who view them as toys or status symbols rather than members of the family. Only those with the time, patience, love, resources, and genuine will to care for dogs and cats for their entire lives—COVID-19 or not—should be bringing them home by adopting those in need from animal shelters.”
The World Organisation for Animal Health says, “The current spread of COVID-19 is a result of human to human transmission. To date, there is no evidence that companion animals can spread the disease. Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare.”
In its letter, PETA India pointed out that through a circular dated 11 March 2020, the AWBI acknowledged that some people are abandoning their animal companions on the streets without food and water and urged law-enforcement authorities of states and union territories to take action against such offences. Via another advisory, dated 23 March 2020, the AWBI requested that law-enforcement authorities ensure that no animals suffer from hunger during the lockdown. On 24 March 2020, the AWBI also advised that district authorities must search pet shops in case animals are locked inside without adequate food, water, and ventilation and must rescue animals when necessary.
Through a recent order, the High Court of Karnataka directed district magistrates and administrations to open all pet shops to ascertain the condition of the animals and to provide them with food and any necessary medicine, noting that local police must help contact the shop owners. Through its 7 May 2014 judgment the Supreme Court of India directed that it is the duty of the government to enforce the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960.
Under Sections 3 and 11 of the PCA Act 1960, it is a punishable offence for a guardian to fail to provide an animal with sufficient food, water, or shelter or to abandon the animal to suffer from hunger and thirst. Under Section 289 of The Indian Penal Code (IPC) “negligent conduct with respect to [an] animal”, is an offence punishable with up to six months’ imprisonment, a fine of up to Rs 1,000, or both. Under Section 429 of the IPC, it is a punishable offence to kill animals, for which the punishment is up to five years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both – and this applies pet shops if animals are starved to death.