During the pandemic and lockdown, there has been a steady increase in the number of pets. Even in the community that I live in, we have grown from 30 odd pets in 2019 to 120+ at present. With this steady increase, as expected, there is friction between pet parents and non-pet lovers. In all this, it is unfortunately the pets who suffer as they don’t have a voice to protest.
As a pet parent, as a pet subcommittee member of my community, and as part of a few rescue groups, I have come across many instances of negligence by pet parents as well as harassment by non-pet lovers. From midnight abandonments outside the gate of rescue centers/kennels to illogical complaints and harrasment, I have handled it all.
While India has laws to ensure Animal Rights, many are unaware of the same. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 was formed keeping in mind the protection of animal rights. The same has been modified multiple times over the years to keep up with the changing times. The Act also details what caregivers need to ensure and how they can safeguard themselves against harassment. The latest proposed amendment looks at more stringent laws with heavy fines or even imprisonment in severe cases.
While Animal Rights covers all animals, this blog post focuses on pets within homes, especially apartments. Here too, the main issue seems to be with dogs compared to other pets, who not taken out often.
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India is a free country and the Constitution talks of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. This is true for humans and animals as well. One should update themselves on this and avoid unnecessary confrontations. Some points for non-animal lovers to keep in mind:
- Understand that the world is a free space and not owned by humans alone.
- If you do not love animals, you have the complete right to not have one in your house. But if you live in a community that is pet friendly, you will need to understand that there are animal lovers too and they have an equal right to have animals as part of their family. If you can’t live with this concept, it is advisable to find a community of similar-minded individuals where animals are not welcome.
- You cannot harm an animal even if you don’t like it. This includes pelting it with stones or sticks.
- Community animals cannot be abused or chased away or denied food and water. This also includes harassment of the caregivers, unreasonable demands or illogical complaints, making it difficult for them to feed and thus forcing them to abandon/stop caring for the animals. Relocation of community animals and harassment of caregivers is a punishable offence.
- Like humans who shout to express fear, anger, joy etc., dogs too express their emotions by barking. Don’t be unreasonable and expect them to be muzzled or not bark at all.
- As per AWBI Guidelines, pets cannot be restricted from using lifts or parks. However, most communities have developed reasonable guidelines to ensure a fair balance between both pet parents and non-pet-loving members of the community. Make an effort to study these rules and understand them in detail.
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As Voltaire (and later Uncle Ben from Spiderman), said “with great power comes great responsibility”. So while it is nice to have a pet at home and know that you have some legal rights as a pet parent, you must also exercise responsibility to ensure a harmonious living. Some pointers for pet parents:
- Read up on all the pros and cons before you bring home a pet. Many times animals are brought for reasons like boredom, peer pressure etc., and then one is unable to cope with the responsibility.
- Caring for the pet is a full-time responsibility for its entire lifetime, which can be for a few decades. It is unfair to abandon the pet in between because you did not do your homework properly. Abandoning is also punishable by the law. If you are not sure and want a trial, volunteer to foster pets from animal shelters. There is a constant need for foster homes and they will welcome your support. You could also babysit your friends’ pets.
- When you bring home a pet, you are responsible for its physical and emotional well-being. Make sure its vaccinations are up to date, it has access to nutritious food and clean water at all times, and schedule regular vet/grooming visits as needed for its upkeep. These cost both time and money. So do your homework and be prepared before bringing home a pet. Negligence is also a punishable offense.
- Do not leave your pet outdoors for long hours, which may expose them to rain and sun. This can have a serious impact on their health and temperament.
- If you love animals, you have the complete right to have one in your house. But if you live in a community, you will need to understand that there are non-animal lovers too and they have an equal right to their sentiments. So make sure others are not disturbed by your choice.
- Understand the rules set by your community and abide by them for a harmonious living. If you have an alternate opinion regarding some rules, call for a constructive discussion instead of blatantly flouting them. This will lead to more damage and eventually, the pet will bear the brunt of it.
- While dogs express themselves by barking, do not allow them to bark or wail continuously for long hours. Apart from causing disturbance to the neighborhood, it is also detrimental to the dog’s physical and mental health.
- Ensure your pet is leashed in common areas so that chances for mishaps are minimized. It is also against the law to leave your pets unleashed and unattended outside of your home/designated play areas.
- Maintain hygiene and clean up after your pets. Refer to any guidelines set by your community for the same.
- If you are a caregiver to a community animal, ensure that its vaccinations are up to date and feed it in an area that does not attract rodents. Also, read up on the community rules and abide by them.
Animals bring joy into our lives with their unconditional love. Let us repay this with kindness and conscientiousness. We should work together to encourage a harmonious living environment.
If you wish to know what the pros and cons of getting a pet are, click here to read my blog post.
This blog is part of Blogchatter’s Cause A Chatter Program that aims raising awareness & making one to pause and think over several social causes. This post is my thoughts on one of the causes for this season: ANIMAL RIGHTS.