THE ANIMAL Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has issued guidelines as per which the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation cannot prohibit the entry of pet dogs in green belts of the city. According to the guidelines, “dogs required exercise and it was illegal to deny them the exercise they require”. The guidelines issued by AWBI have been forwarded by Maneka Gandhi, Union Minister for Women and Child Development and also an animal right activist, to Municipal Commissioner Baldeo Purushartha.
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“Walking dogs on pavement is difficult because of the flow of pedestrian traffic and the pavements are narrow. Moreover, pedestrians often feel scared to come into close proximity of dogs. Therefore, it is more prudent that dogs be taken to parks to exercise them. Needless to state, dogs that are not properly exercised can turn aggressive and it is also illegal to deny them the exercise they require,” the order mentioned.
The order stated that all boards fixed outside the parks that say “dogs and pets are not allowed in the parks” be removed at the earliest. New boards which specify timings when dog owners can walk their dogs be installed. The AWBI said that the timings mentioned be reasonably long and changed according to the season.
As per the guidelines, however, a pet owner will have to carry a scoop with him to remove the excreta of the dog in the park and deposit it in the garbage. A leash no longer than six feet has to be carried to ensure safety of passersby. It also specified that even as pet owners must leash their pet dogs, the authorities in charge of the parks cannot insist on the use of muzzles.
All resident welfare associations are also required to follow the order. There are many RWAs that are managing the parks in Chandigarh. There are about 1,800 green belts in the city.
The councillors are up in arms against the order, saying they cannot implement this. They assert that Chandigarh has beautiful green belts, so dogs and residents together cannot take a walk in the park.
The councillors insist if the dogs are allowed inside parks, children won’t feel safe and will run out of options of places to play at.
However, Municipal Commissioner Baldeo Purushartha stated that they had to implement the directives and had no option. “These directives issued by the board are on the basis of orders of Delhi high court. I also got a call from Maneka Gandhi regarding this,” he said.
BJP councillor Davesh Moudgil said that a mobile application be made where pictures could be posted if a pet owner did not follow the norms of carrying a scoop and leash, and accordingly be fined.
There are about 6,000 pet dogs registered with the MC. However, the issue was raised in the House that the number of pet dogs in Chandigarh was between 30,000 and 40,000.