Govt can regulate pet trade, says law panel

Govt can regulate pet trade, says law panel

The Law Commission has said the government has sufficient powers to regulate the pet-care business, differing with the government's own stand that it cannot do so with current laws.

It has also asked the government to notify rules and implement them at the earliest.

In its report “Need to Regulate Pet Shops and Dog and Aquarium Fish Breeding”, submitted on Friday, the panel headed by Justice A P Shah felt it was necessary to regulate the business, observing that pet shops and breeders violate provisions of animal welfare laws with “impunity”.

The panel noted that rules on pet shops, dog-breeding and aquarium fish-breeding have been drafted in consultation with stakeholders and are pending with the government since 2010. The Environment Ministry, based on the Law Ministry's opinion, “believes” the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, “does not have enabling or substantive provisions” to issue regulations. Thus, the Environment Ministry felt issuing these regulations would be beyond its powers under the law.

The Law Commission, however, said “there are sufficient powers contained in the law which allow these rules to be issued,” and recommended that the rules be “notified and implemented at the earliest”.

“Reports suggest that the animals are kept in terribly inhumane conditions. For instance, it appears puppies are drugged to prevent them from crying, large birds are stuffed into small cages and fish become stressed and sometimes die because of confinement, crowding, contaminated water and unnatural temperatures,” said the commission.

Other common harmful practices include de-beaking of birds, docking tails of dogs, selling unweaned pups and de-clawing kittens, said the panel, adding that poor conditions in pet shops and lack of basic veterinary care also put the public at increased risk of contracting diseases transmitted by animals.

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