Stray dogs are wildlife as well as living creatures. However, unlike pet dogs, stray dogs are exposed to harsh environmental conditions, and they are prone to picking up diseases.
Stray dogs are also known to be aggressive, especially when provoked. Their bites also pose the risk of rabies on the victims of such bite.
Because of these reasons, and other factors at large, a lot of persons are harsh towards stray dogs, kill them, or carry out such other cruel act towards them.
But are stray dogs totally bad? Do they have rights? And should they be protected?
2.0 Are Stray Dogs Totally Bad? – Things to Know about Stray Dogs
- Naturally, stray dogs guard their territories.
- And like every other dog, stray dogs do not bite unless when provoked, or when they perceive some form of aggression towards them.
Acts like raising a stick against a dog, bending to pick a stone, trying to touch or catching a dog, and intently staring at a dog, may amount to provocation/aggression, which in its defense, will cause the dog to bite.
A stray dog may also become aggressive when trying to protect its territory or its food/ source of food.
- Stray dogs live around humans. This is why they’re constantly seen around human habitations.
Therefore, efforts to completely rid human habitation of stray dogs, are not always completely successful.
Dogs will somehow migrate to new territories. Vacated territories, will always be taken up by new dogs.
- Stray dogs provide some advantage to the environment. They feed on insects, snakes, and even rodents. This rids the environment of this harmful creatures, and against disease plagues caused by harmful rodents.
3.0 Rights of Stray Dogs
Article 51A(g) of the Constitution of India imposes a duty on all citizens of India to “protect & improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures”.
Article 48-A of the Constitution, also mandates the State to “endeavor to protect and improve the environment and safeguard forests and wildlife of the country”.
A number of laws on protection of animals against cruelty have been enacted, which includes the following:
- Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act – Section 11 of the Act criminalizes “all animal cruelty”, which is punishable by Fine and imprisonment.
- Indian Penal Code, also makes provisions criminalizing animal cruelty specifically, Section 428 and 429 of the Code, imposes punishment on persons who carry out acts of cruelty towards community animals.
Specific enactments on protection of stray dogs, have also been enacted within the recent decade.
- The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and Wildlife (Protection) Act, make provisions which protect stray dogs against cruelty.
- Stray Dog Management Rules, 2001 makes it illegal to remove or relocate dogs from their territory.
The Rules mandate that sterilized and vaccinated dogs should be returned to the same area from where they were picked. They cannot also be removed from the municipality.
- The Animal Birth Control (Dog) Rules, 2001, makes provision for the sterilization and vaccination of stray dog, as a means of eliminating rabies, as well as a solution for reducing stray dog populations. The Rules also prohibits the act of driving a stray dog stray dogs out of one area into another.
Many religions in India, have incorporated the act of feeding animals like dogs, as part of their religious practices. And by virtue of Article 25, 26, 27, 28 of the Constitution of India, citizens right to practice and propagate their religious practice is guaranteed.
The Animal Welfare Board in March, 2008, and the Ministry of Public Grievances have issued notifications which provide immunity to persons who feed animals. The notifications also impose restrictions on government employees or bodies, e.g. Resident Welfare Associations, from harassing people who feed or try to help animals.
Because stray dogs are living creatures, as well as wildlife, they come within the purview of Article 51A(g). And from the discussions above, it is clear that the rights of stray dogs include the following:
- Right to be protected
- Right to be shown compassion, is constitutionally guaranteed
- Right to be free from all forms of cruelty
- Right to be fed
- Right not to be removed or relocated from their territories
The Supreme Court gave an order against removing, killing, or dislocation of a dog in India.
In 2011, the Delhi High Court also made an order asking that the police should provide protection to dogs and dog feeders. And anyone who restricts, prohibits, or causes inconvenience to a person who feeds a street dog, or removes/dislocates/kills a dog commits a punishable offence.
4.0 Protection of Stray Dogs
- Stray dogs should not be subjected to any form of cruelty.
- Systematic sterilization and vaccination of stray dogs within a vicinity should be strictly implemented. The World Health Organization (W.H.O) have recommended these measures to effectively eliminate the risk of rabies.
- Adoption of stray dogs by members of the community should be encouraged. This will help reduce the population of stray dogs. This measure also comes highly recommended by W.H.O.
- Eliminating the act of relocating stray dogs. This helps in reducing the risk of sterilized/vaccinated dogs getting into areas with high risk diseases.
- Feeding stray dogs. This will reduce the rate at which the dogs roam in search food. This also makes the dogs more friendly, and makes it easier to catch them for sterilization/vaccination.