Every dog has its day, feels SC

Every dog has its day, feels SC

The Supreme Court has taken a sensible and reasonable position between the extreme views on how to deal with the stray dog problem. There are many who maintain that the killing of stray dogs is the only effective solution to the problem posed by them to public health. There are others who oppose indiscriminate killing of dogs, in fact of all animals, birds and other creatures, because it is wrong, selfish and unethical. The court has struck a balance between the need to ensure the health and safety of humanbeings and the need for humane treatment and protection of animals. It considers sterilisation or vaccination of stray dogs in accordance with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and other rules as the best method to deal with the problem. It also wants municipal authorities to set up sufficient numbers of dog pounds, kennels and shelters for dogs that need care.

Culling of dogs may be resorted to only in the most extreme and unavoidable situations. Only the rabies-afflicted, incurably ill or mortally wounded dogs should be killed, as the law mandates. The court noted that dogs are often indiscriminately killed and state and municipal authorities are reluctant to go in for their sterilisation or vaccination because of indifference, lack of funds or other reasons. Sterilisation and vaccination should also be done under the supervision of the Animal Welfare Board. The court also does not want any obstruction or impediment to this to be created by any quarter. Many animal rights groups are against sterilisation of dogs. This is because the procedure is done in unhygienic conditions and dogs are sent out on the streets even before the wounds heal. It should be ensured that the procedures are done with care.

The orders were issued on the basis of petitions filed by animal rights groups against the culling of dogs and by some state governments like Maharashtra and Kerala which wanted more powers to deal with the menace. Both states have seen an aggravation of the stray dog problem. But officials had to face action under the law for killing dogs. The laws and rules are different in different states. There is also an earlier order from the Supreme Court which allowed the killing of dogs. What the court has now issued is an interim order and a more comprehensive ruling may be made later. It wants the problem to be addressed effectively but with compassion and care. Most people unfortunately do not accept that animals also have their rights.
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