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The government Thursday introduced rules to regulate dog breeders, aquarium owners, and livestock markets by bringing them under the ambit of a law to check cruelty to animals. The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) issued a series of notifications under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. Under the new rules, it will be mandatory for all dog breeders and aquarium owners and their establishments to register themselves with the state Animal Welfare Board of the respective states.
The rules also define the requirements to be met by the breeders and the establishments used for breeding, such as those related to health, housing facilities and conditions for sale.
The ministry also notified the livestock markets rules which recommend an animal market monitoring committee to be formed in every district, headed by the district magistrate. There are also extensive conditions to ensure that smuggling of cattle is checked. The new rules have been framed under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act – The Dog Breeding and Marketing Rules and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Aquarium and Fish Tank Animals Shop) Rules.
“This was an area where no regulation existed. Despite the government spending huge amounts for neutering dogs in India, breeding of pedigreed dogs was going on unabated in extremely cruel and unsanitary conditions in puppy mills,” said activist Gauri Mulekhi, who had moved court demanding that such regulations be put in place.
The breeders openly advertised in newspapers and even provide home delivery of pups, without disclosing to customers that the mothers of such pups are often kept on a short chain for all their lives and subjected to heinous contraptions such as the ‘Rape Stand” to induce back to back pregnancies, she said.
“The commercially driven pet industry often kills the unsold animals and is currently answerable to no one,” said the activist
Aquarium owners to sell fishes which may be prohibited or endangered. In fact, activists say that while breeding and selling of aquarium fish is a big business, in this process coral reefs have been damaged and many fish brought to near extinction. There is a tendency to regard fish as non-beings, therefore, they are sold as commodities, kept in unsuitable conditions, activists say.
It was in 2014 that Gauri Mulekhi of People for Animals filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court to prevent smuggling of animals across the Indo-Nepal Border. In May 2016, the SC gave directions to the government to form an interministerial committee with the petitioner to recommend ways to prevent the smuggling of cattle.
The committee recommended, among other things, Rules to be framed under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 to regulate Livestock Markets and for maintenance of case property.
“This was a huge gap which is being filled by the government,” Mulekhi said on livestock markets rules.
Till now, no regulations existed to check how many animals are sold at animal markets and for what purposes.
“They are neither screened for diseases nor is any step taken to ensure that minimum welfare standards are met.
“Likewise, despite orders of the Supreme Court, in many instances, animals that are victims of cruelty are returned to original custodians by magistrates disregarding their welfare,” she said.
The case property animals rules are also likely to be notified soon. These lay down a systematic procedure to ensure that such animals get veterinary attention and are kept safe in an infirmary or an animal shelter.
“It is a much to prevent cattle smugglers from getting the intercepted cattle back, once they are caught by the state law enforcement agencies or the Border Security Force,” said Mulekhi.