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Street dogs: Delhi High Court’s landmark verdict on feeding, taking care of strays (Read order)

The Bench pointed out that all law enforcement authorities shall ensure that no harassment or hindrance is caused to the person feeding street dog at the designated feeding spot.

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The Delhi High Court has issued a set of directions on feeding stray dogs in the city while saying animals have a right to be treated with compassion, respect and dignity. The Court guidelines also take into account the dogs’ treatment and vaccination.

Understanding that stray dogs have the right to food and citizens have the right to feed community dogs, the single-judge bench of Justice J.R. Midha said: “In exercising this right, care and caution should be taken to ensure that it does not impinge upon the rights of others or cause any harm, hindrance, harassment and nuisance to other individuals or members of society.”

“Feeding of community dogs have to be done at areas designated by Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) in consultation with Resident Welfare Associations or Municipal Corporation (in case RWA is not available),” the Bench directed.

The Bench pointed out that all law enforcement authorities shall ensure that no harassment or hindrance is caused to the person feeding street dog at the designated feeding spot. In addition, it also pointed out that it shall be the duty and obligation of every RWA or Municipal Corporation to ensure that every community dog in every area has access to food and water in the absence of caregivers or community dog feeders in the said area.

Recognizing every dog as a ‘territorial being’, the Bench therefore emphasized that the street dogs have to be fed and tended to at places within their territory which are sparingly used by the general public and residents.

Furthermore, the Bench directed that there should be no hindrance caused to persons feeding the community dogs, until and unless it is causing harm or harassment to that other person.

It placed responsibility on the AWBI to ensure that every RWA or Municipal Corporation have an Animal Welfare Committee, which shall be responsible for ensuring compliance of the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and further, to ensure harmony and ease of communication between caregivers, feeders or animal lovers and other residents. In addition, the Bench directed the RWA and the community residents to secure treatment of the injured or unwell stray dog by the vets made available by the Municipal Corporation and to get the dogs vaccinated against rabies, respectively.

Recognizing the importance of street dogs in a community, the Bench observed: “Being territorial animals, they live in certain areas and play the role of guards by protecting the community from the entry of outsiders or unknown people.”

The Court also emphasized on the need to spread awareness about the fact that even animals have a right to live with respect and dignity, and directed thus: 

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“AWBI shall carry out an awareness campaign in association with various Newspapers, Television, Radio Channels and Social Media platforms. AWBI shall also ensure these Guidelines are disseminated through the above-mentioned media. AWBI shall circulate these Guidelines to various Resident Welfare Associations, the Police Department, and Municipal Authorities etc.”

For effective implementation of these guidelines, the Bench constituted the Implementation Committee, comprising the following members:

(i) The Director, Animal Husbandry Department or his nominee.

(ii) One Senior Officer to be nominated by all the Municipal Corporations.

(iii) One Senior Officer to be nominated by Delhi Cantonment Board.

(iv)  One Senior Officer to be nominated by Animal Welfare Board of India.

(v)  Nandita Rao, Additional Standing Counsel, Govt. of NCT of Delhi as Convenor.

(vi) Manisha T. Karia, Advocate for Animal Welfare Board of India.

(vii) Pragyan Sharma, Advocate

The Bench directed the Committee to hold its first meeting within four weeks, and that a copy of the court’s decision be sent to the Delhi Judicial Academy to sensitize the judges about the directions laid down by the court.

Read the judgment here;

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