The district consumer disputes redressal forum in Gurugram has directed the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) to immediately ban pet dogs of 11 foreign breeds.
The forum order includes breeds such as the American Pit-bull Terriers, Dogo Argentino, Rottweiller, Neapolitan Mastiff, and more from November 15, 2022, a report by Indian Express stated.
According to the order, “the MCG is directed to cancel all the licence/s if any issued in this regard in favour of the dog owners for keeping the above-cited pet dogs with immediate effect and take into its custody the aforesaid dogs immediately.” The forum also directed the MCG to make pet dog registration mandatory within a month of November 15, 2022, and to issue licence/s in respect thereof at a fee of at least Rs 12,000 per year, with a renewal fee of not less than Rs 10,000 per year.
The order comes amid an apparent spate in attacks by pet dogs. The Gurugram forum’s order came along interim compensation of Rs 2 lakh for a woman who was seriously injured in August after being attacked by a pet dog in Gurgaon’s Civil Lines. She had suffered injuries on her head and an FIR was lodged.
What Does the Order Say?
According to the report, every registered dog shall wear a collar to which a metal token coupled with a metal chain shall be attached. The MCG is directed to require that each family keep only one dog and that whenever the registered dog is taken to public places, its mouth be properly covered with a net cap.
It also stated that those found in violation of the aforementioned provisions will have their dog taken into custody immediately by the MCG, and a fine of “not less than Rs 20,000 and extending upto Rs 2 lakh" will be imposed on the violator, and in default of the provisions, he will face “imprisonment not less than one month which may extend upto two years."
The forum also directed MCG to immediately take all stray dogs within its jurisdiction into custody and keep them in dog ponds or at a location maintained by the MCG near Basai village with the assistance of NGOs.
What Dog Breeds are Banned?
• Neapolitian Mastiff
• Presa Canario
• Wolf dog
• American Bulldog
• Fila Brasileiro
• Cane Corso
What Has Prompted the Order?
Like the attack on the maid that directed the recent compensation, there have been other incidents this past year that have made headlines. In September, an 11-year-old boy’s face was bitten by a pitbull in Ghaziabad, after which he received 150 stitches. An old woman in Lucknow was mauled to death by her pet dog in UP’s Qaiserbagh in July. Another recent report highlighted how a six-year-old boy was seriously injured after being bitten by a pet dog inside a lift in Greater Noida in Tuesday.
What Dog Owners in a Tizzy
Dog owners in Gurugram are unhappy with the order. Calling the order bizarre, Jitin Rao, a resident of Sector 46 who owns two Rottweilers, told the Indian Express that he had raised his two dogs as if they were children.
“How is it possible for someone to simply take custody of one of my children?," he questioned, adding that a dog’s temperament was determined by a variety of factors - including training and upbringing. He further asked whether the forum had relied on any study or data indicating that these ‘ferocious’ or domesticated breeds caused the majority of dog bites.
Rishabh Chauhan, who owns a bulldog, told IE that he believed the authorities lack the infrastructure to enforce these orders, and that if they are implemented, these breeds will be abandoned.
‘Questions on Legality’
Chitranshul Sinha, a lawyer, told the Indian Express that the consumer forum lacks the inherent powers of a writ court to issue orders. He said the Gurgaon consumer forum does not appear to have jurisdiction to issue such orders, and that ideally, the person seeking relief from the municipal corporation should have filed a writ petition in the High Court.
He said this was even more unusual because it has passed an order to capture all of the pet dog breeds that it has purportedly ‘banned,’ despite the fact that the owners of these dogs were not parties before the forum, and thus this order was passed without giving them an opportunity to be heard.
As a result, the order violates natural justice principles as well, he argued, adding that the forum has issued orders imposing registration fees and fines, which fall outside of its purview. The order also contradicts the Supreme Court’s order issued on Wednesday while hearing an appeal against a Bombay High Court order ordering the capture of stray dogs. The Supreme Court stated that such capturing and so on are not permitted, he said.
In an interim order, Supreme Court stays certain observations of Bombay HC incl those who're interested in feeding stray dogs to "formally adopt" them. Court directs Nagpur municipal corporation to ensure & take steps for general public to feed stray dogs at demarcated locations.— ANI (@ANI) November 16, 2022
Observing that no one should stop feeding stray dogs because they may become aggressive, the Supreme Court, in an interim order issued on Wednesday had stayed certain observations of the Bombay High Court that stated that those interested in feeding stray dogs should “formally adopt" them and that no nuisance should be created by people while feeding them, reports stated.
The Supreme Court also expressed concern about keeping street dogs in captivity, stating that they are not intended to be kept in captivity. The court also stated that people who feed dogs cannot be forced to adopt them. In an interim order, the court directed the Nagpur Municipal Corporation to ensure and take steps to ensure that the general public feeds street dogs at appropriate locations identified and demarcated by them. The court also asked the general public to ensure that feeding stray dogs does not cause a public nuisance.
Is Breed-specific Legislation Justified?
The American Veterinary Medical Association, and other organisations have advised against breed-specific legislation, citing a study published on September 15, 2000, in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association.
The study, which focuses on fatal dog attacks, notes difficulties in identifying different breeds (especially mixed breeds) and calculating a bite rate. The researchers pointed out that there isn’t consistent data on breed populations and bites, particularly when the injury isn’t severe enough to necessitate an ER visit.
According to Pamela Reid, PhD, vice president of the ASPCA’s Animal Behavior Center in New York, a variety of factors can contribute to an aggressive personality. Breeding dogs for protection, dog fighting, social status, or financial gain is an example of this. Abuse, neglect, tethering, chaining, and insufficient obedience training and supervision are other examples.
What Has Centre Said
The Ministry of Fisheries and Animal Husbandry had informed the Parliament in August that there was no provision in the statute for compensating dog-bite victims who died or were injured in an attack.
According to the livestock census, the number of stray dogs has decreased from 171.4 lakh in 2012 to 153.1 lakh in 2019. The number of stray dogs is highest in Uttar Pradesh, while the lowest is in Mizoram. There is no provision for keeping stray dogs in captivity; municipal authorities can only castrate stray dogs to control their population, a report by India Today had stated.
The ministry also stated that it did not keep any records of human deaths or injuries caused by stray dogs.
What Do Past Rulings Say?
In the case of Ajay Singh Rawat vs Union of India and Ors., the court ordered that in the case of a dog bite, the victim receive compensation of Rs two lakhs — Rs one lakh from the municipality and Rs one lakh from the state government — within a week of the dog bite incident, the report stated.
In another case from Chandigarh, a resident was arrested in 2019 after his pet dog bit a 10-year-old boy. The owner of a pet was charged under section 289 of the IPC with imprisonment of either kind for a term of up to six months, or a fine of up to Rs 1,000, or both.
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