The Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying has notified the Animal Birth Control Rules, 2023, defining the guidelines for the management and feeding of stray dogs. According to this, the onus of dedicating feeding points for such community animals in their localities and apartment complexes lies with Resident Welfare Associations (RWA) and Apartment Owners Associations (AOA), respectively.
The RWAs and AOAs will have to make necessary arrangements for the feeding of community dogs and cats residing in the premises or the area.
Bearing in mind the dog / cat population in the concerned area, RWA and AOA representatives shall designate feeding spots that have been mutually agreed upon.
“These feeding spots shall be far from children play areas, entry and exit points, staircases, and should be in an area which is the least frequented by children and senior citizens. RWAs or AOAs should designate feeding times depending on the movement of children and senior citizens. The designated feeder shall ensure that there is no littering at the feeding location. Designated feeders are allowed to volunteer to help vaccinate the dogs, and to assist the animal birth control programme by helping catch and release the animals,” the guidelines said.
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It also said that in case of pets, the owner of the animal shall be responsible for deworming, immunisation, and sterilisation.
In case of street animals, the local authority shall be responsible for deworming, immunisation, and sterilisation, and may engage an animal welfare organisation to carry out the animal birth control programme in accordance with the rules.
There have been several cases of dog bites in a number of cities across the country, including Noida, Ghaziabad, Delhi, Bengaluru, and Lucknow, among others.
In October 2022, a seven-month-old child was mauled to death by a stray dog inside a gated colony in Noida’s Sector 100. In March this year, two minor boys were found dead in a span of two days in south Delhi's Vasant Kunj area. They were suspected to have been killed by stray dogs.
What residents say
Amritika Phool, a representative of the Gurugram Sector 57 RWA, hailed the initiative and said the move to involve RWAs in the feeding and maintenance of community dogs will certainly help mitigate the dog menace.
“It is a good step. If the RWA gets involved in taking care of street dogs then we will ensure that we have friendly dogs, who can easily be sterilised and their population controlled. Donations can be collected from the society for expenses incurred to feed and maintain stray dogs, and to maintain the cleanliness of the feeding points and the area around it,” she said.
She added that dogs generally fight for food, for their territory, and shelter, but when there are dedicated feeding points and shelters then people will see more peaceful dogs around them and the dog-human conflict would reduce. She added that taking away an animal from its native area is against the norms.
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Rajiva Singh, President, Noida Federation of Apartment Owners Associations (NOFAA), also welcomed the move and said the primary role of RWAs is to assist the administration in the implementation of various government policies.
He, however, said that holding AOAs responsible for the cleanliness of the feeding point and area around it may not provide optimum results as RWAs and AOAs have limited resources.
He added that it would be good if resident bodies, along with animal lovers and representatives from the administration, jointly designate these feeding points.
“It would be difficult for RWAs and AOAs to keep a continuous tab on the feeding time and cleanliness of the feeding area. RWAs and AOAs have very limited resources, so maintaining hygiene in the feeding areas should be the responsibility of the health department of the concerned local body. RWAs and AOAs do not have the funds to take care of community animals,” Singh told Moneycontrol.
He added that the administration’s role has to be more proactive to make the entire process sustainable.
Bhanu Vishnoi, former Chairman, Vasant Kunj RWA, said stray dogs are a big menace in the Vasant Kunj area.
He said that a permanent solution that minimises the interaction of stray dogs with humans should be implemented. Merely designating feeding areas for stray dogs will not be of much help, he felt.
Sneha Nandihal, president of an RWA in Bengaluru’s Indiranagar locality said RWAs have been hiring pet feeders to feed stray dogs in the area. “However, vaccination is still a major challenge for the RWAs,” she added.
Nandihal said several RWAs in Bengaluru have stopped the entry of stray dogs inside their communities after certain incidents. “Such government guidelines fail to talk about the major solution, that of population control. Municipal bodies are responsible for vaccination and animal birth control (ABC). If that is done then we won’t see so many strays in the first place,” she added.
Alok Kumar, President, Federation of AOAs, Ghaziabad, said that formulating policies for controlling the dog menace is a good step, but such guidelines will only be successful when visible on the ground.
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“Policies are often formed but hardly followed in letter and spirit. Most of the AOAs have already designated feeding points for community dogs. But the main problem is their uncontrolled population. The government should take a strict stand on the birth control of street dogs, else the problem of stray dogs cannot be solved,” Kumar said.
With inputs from Souptik Dutta