Environmentalist calls for moratorium on sale of fancy breeds

By Rosamma Thomas*

In a letter to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan last month, conservationist and member of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s Biodiversity and Development Expert Group, Dr S Faizi, suggested that one way to reduce the public health problem posed by street dogs would be to impose a five-year moratorium on the sale of fancy dog ​​breeds. Dog lovers must be encouraged and encouraged to adopt native breeds, so that so many of them do not go hungry and roam the streets.
Data from the Department of Health Services shows that there has been a huge increase in dog bite incidents in the state. There were 62,280 cases of dog bites in the state in 2013; 2.21 lakh cases were reported in 2021. “The threat of street dogs has become a crisis of civilisation,” Dr Faizi wrote, adding that local self-government institutions have been hampered in their attempts to deal with the situation by ordinances issued by the Union Government. during Maneka Gandhi’s tenure as Minister of Culture.
Faizi quoted Mahatma Gandhi, who in a 1920s “Young India” article defended his own approval of the killing of around 60 stray dogs by Ahmedabad industrialist Ambalal Sarabhai. Gandhi then faced severe criticism, as he was questioned on how a man who swore by ahimsa could support the slaughter of dogs. “A stray dog ​​without a master is a danger to society,” wrote Gandhi. Faizi points out that in addition to attacks on humans, wild dogs pose a threat to wild animals and erode the effectiveness of wildlife conservation measures.
Faizi suggested the Chief Minister ask the Supreme Court to intervene to settle the contradictions between the Prevention of Cruelty Act 1960 and the 2001 rules and orders issued in this regard. The law “cannot withstand judicial scrutiny as it is contrary to the powers of the state since only the State Assembly can legislate on domestic animals, as it is a subject of the state; likewise, it is a public health issue that is again a state subject,” Faizi explained.
The environmentalist pointed out that in the past it had not been brought before the courts that Union Government orders preventing the slaughter of street dogs were illegal because the Prevention of Cruelty Act made it illegal. -even categorically asks the Animal Welfare Council to see article 9.f ‘to take all these measures. such measures as Council may think fit to ensure that unwanted animals are destroyed by local authorities, whenever necessary, either instantly or after being rendered insensible to pain or suffering”.
Faizi points out that the killing of wild animals is permitted, once they are listed as vermin, under Schedule V of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. Nilgai, boar and rhesus macaques have been culled after being declared vermin in four states. “No one can claim that the street dog, a pest or invasive species under the Biodiversity Convention, is superior to the wild species considered,” writes Faizi, explaining: “At this rate, the eradication of rats, a other mammal, will also be called into question at some point”.

*Freelance journalist based in Kerala

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