When people turned on street dogs…

The four legged fluffy ball of pure goodness and cuteness who loves you more than it loves itself and is always happy to see you. Yes, I am talking about a man’s best friend, a dog. But a few recent incidents have taken cruelty against animals, mainly dogs to a whole new level. Examples of the most unexpected human-animal conflict that is playing out in India are —

Gautam Sudharshan, final year MBBS student from Madha Medical College who flung the dog named Bhadra (warrior) off a 100ft high roof while posing for the camera. Ashish Paul, his friend heartlessly filmed the entire incident. The pup was found alive and was taken to the Madras Veterinary College for treatment. The 5 month old pup sustained fractures in two places, her right hind leg and her spine.  The two medical students were let out on bail of Rs 10,000.

50 dogs were burned alive near Malmaruvathur, about 50km from Chennai due to the increasing stray dog menace in India.

Animal rights groups say cash-strapped municipalities and irate citizens have been poisoning, clubbing, beating, shooting and electrocuting strays to control their population.

Last year, the growing stray dog problem in Kerala and neighbouring Tamil Nadu states inspired extreme measures: village councils ordered killing of mutts; dog catchers hired by locals went around injecting the canines with potassium cyanide. In 2012, a lawmaker from Punjab kicked up a storm when he suggested that stray dogs should be sent to China and India’s north-east – where dogs are sometimes eaten – after a rising number of dog bite cases. Since then many such cases have been reported, such as puppies being fastened to fireworks to die a painful, brutal death. Other civilians attempt to poison the stray animals, leaving them to suffer.

It all started with the killing of rabid dogs. Yes, we need to reduce strays but we don’t need to be so cruel while doing so. Killing dogs in these ways is neither logical nor scientific.

According to researches, there are more free-roaming dogs in Latin America than there are in India. There are as many as 50 dogs per 100 humans. The highest rate of free-roaming dogs we have recorded in India is around 7-8 dogs per 100 humans. Comparatively the problem of stray dogs in India is lower than other parts of the world. Extreme measures such as the ones taken by civilians and administration taken are way to cruel and inhumane.

An individual who is able to engage in cruelty to animals appears to have no conscience and thus no remorse for his or her behavior. The act of cruelty to animals results from an apparent need for power and control, and this need is accompanied by a lack of empathy. Animals are targeted, especially helpless and defenseless ones, because the perpetrator does not recognize or care that they have feelings and can experience not just physical pain but also emotional pain.Animals can feel pain and suffer, just as humans can, but since sociopaths have a general inability to empathize, they are able to inflict pain and agony on sentient beings with no feelings of remorse—hence the increased probability that cruelty to humans is a next step.Animal torture and cruelty is one of the three adolescent behaviours in what is often referred to the ‘Homicidal Triad’, Are we going to just sit and encourage people to be cruel?

Are we so cruel , that we deliberately kill, injure and maim animals just for existing? Are we so indifferent to their pain, that we silently watch them be killed and not raise our voices against it? Are we going to side with the offender?

There are provisions in the Indian Constitution to deter people from killing animals but so far they haven’t been put to good use. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 was enacted with an objective of preventing infliction of unnecessary pain on animals. The Section 11 clearly elucidates that causing harm to any animal during transportation is a cognizable offence. Tying up cattle in overcrowded vehicles is illegal, according to this Act. In fact, injecting anything injurious and serving any poisonous food is also illegal. Any such violation of Section 11 invites a penalty of Rs. 100 and/or up to three months of imprisonment.The Archaic Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 needs to be changed, stringent laws need to be made to deter people from committing such a crime. In many parts of the world the punishment for killing an animal is equal to the punishment given for homicide. We need to learn something from such laws.

According to sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code, it is illegal to maim or injure any animal. Acts like throwing acid on cows, injuring street dogs and cats also invite punishment, which in a way serves as a caveat for many reckless drivers on the road. The Code also makes it illegal for cars to injure or kill dogs, cats and cows on the street. Offenders are either handed over to the local animal protection group or a police station. Further, a criminal case is filed against them. A minimum penalty of Rs. 2000 and/or up to five years of imprisonment are awarded to the guilty.

If anybody mistreats an animal all we need is a few law-abiding citizens to report the incident to the required authorities and put them to justice. Just because dogs are not our vote bank doesn’t mean we won’t care about them. They are as much a part of our society as we are.

The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated. — Mahatma Gandhi



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