In a shocking incident, a residential family of three in Gurugram was held hostage in their car after neighbours objected to the family’s habit of feeding stray dogs. The incident occurred in the Vatika 21 housing society complex in Sector 83 on Monday night. Residents of the complex alleged that the family fed stray dogs inside the society complex. They also said that the dogs were a safety hazard and that they had bitten several children in the complex.
On Monday night, a dog lover, his wife and his three-year-old daughter were returning home in their car when the residents surrounded the car and blocked it from entering, essentially locking them in their car and holding them hostage. In videos that have since gone viral, a crowd of residents can be seen chanting slogans like “Bahar nikalo kutte ko” (bring the dog out).
The residents of the apartment said that they decided to protest after the dogs bit several children, NDTV reported. One of the strays had recently bit a resident, causing unrest in the society.
According to a report in The Indian Express, the police were called in the situation was under control. No complaint has yet been lodged in the matter.
The incident sheds light on a bigger question – Is feeding stray dogs illegal? If not, what recourse do animal lovers who care for stray animals have when faced with opposition and attacks for feeding dogs?
In 2011, the Delhi High Court laid down strict regulations for the feeding of stray dogs.
The Delhi High Court order of 2011 lays down very strict guidelines for feeders, all of which have been violated by feeders as mentioned in the article. Feeding is only allowed if these guidelines are followed.
In 2014, The Animal Welfare Board of India released a circular in which it said that there was no law against the feeding of street dogs.
“There is no law that prohibits the feeding of street animals. Citizens who choose to do so are in fact performing a duty cast upon them by the Constitution of India – of showing compassion to all living creatures. Various Courts, including High Courts, have upheld street dog feeding since the same reduces human-animal conflict and suspicion, and facilitates animal birth control (by making dog catching easier,” the circular, dated February 24, 2014, reads.
It also added that beating and intimidation of stray dogs was not allowed and the only way to control the stray dog population was through sterilisation, followed by releasing of the strays in their original localities.
However, the AWBI’s circular is based on the Delhi High Court’s 2011 ruling which permitted dog feeders to feed strays but while following certain guidelines.
While the court order allowed feeding in public spaces, it asked feeders to not feeding strays in places frequented by people. These include public streets, footpaths or pedestrian paths, public causeways and common public areas immediately outside residential houses or apartment entrances. The court also directed the feeding should take place at times when the areas have a low density of human population and minimal traffic.
Holding an entire family hostage and intimidating them with slogans might not be the right way to resolve the issue faced by the stray-feeding family in the Gurugram apartment. But with an increasing number of dog bites in Delhi in the past years, the question once again arises – who is responsible for the upkeep and regulation of stray dogs?
According to a Times of India report from august 2020, Delhi has witnessed an average of 120 cases of dog bites every day since 2017 with over 1.5 lakh people receiving clinical treatment for the same since then. The last count of strays, however, was conducted in 2009, over a decade ago.