Animal Rights Is A Joke In India
A joke of epic proportions.
Dogs, cats, cows, horses, goats and other domesticated animals have always been on the receiving end of human brutality for ages. Animal cruelty has become so routine and regular that we, the public, no longer feel shocked or embittered by such inhuman acts perpetrated against innocent defenseless creatures. Stories of dogs being kicked, punched, beaten, skinned alive, burnt, and tied to vehicles and dragged on the streets are all but common nowadays.
But it isn’t about these violent, unforgivable, inhumane acts that this article is about. It’s rather about one kind of injustice that is all too common in India. Breeders.
The pandemic of home breeders and rooftop kennels
Just a few months ago, a family living in an independent house from across my apartment decided to start raising dogs on their terrace. Now, I don’t know for what purpose this was, but it definitely looked like they were being raised to be turned into puppy making machines and not to be kept as pets. Who in their right mind would keep a pet confined to their terrace 24/7, and never allow it inside their house?
And how do I know this?
I’ve been seeing it with my very own eyes for the last couple of months.
The dogs are cruelly confined to the terrace of this family’s house 24/7. They’re either kept confined inside their kennels, or confined to the terrace itself, which is just a bigger prison if you ask me. They’ve literally been kept there since they were a few months old when the owner purchased them, probably from another horrifying puppy mill. They’ve never seen the outside world. Yes, they even eat, pee, poop, play, and do everything else right within the confines of this square terrace, which is barely 5 to 6 feet long.
What ever exercise they get, if you can even call it that, is all within this pitiful excuse of a dwelling. It’s like being confined to your bedroom for your entire life.
They bark incessantly when left alone, and the family doesn’t even bother to come up and check on them. It’s only when I, along with a few other neighbours from adjacent houses went and created a ruckus, that the noise substantially reduced, at least for most part of the day. The owners (or rather breeders) never take them out for walks, there’s no socialization, no play, and no fun. No dog things, so to speak. Just 4 plain walls to stare at, along with the happenings of the road down below, for what could pass off as a pathetic excuse for entertainment.
The terrace being a “terrace” is open, which means the dogs are forced to pull through all seasons, either out in the open or inside their kennels, which are only a little less open. The kennel shelter is practically useless in the winter. During the monsoon, they’re kept locked inside the kennels throughout the day because the breeders didn’t want them getting wet in the rain. So in the guise of protecting them from the rain, they’re again kept confined to their cages, where they’re again crying and barking all day long, in the cold, wet and gloomy outdoors.
Even though I live in one of the most salubrious cities of India, it does get pretty hot during the summers, and in the monsoon there’s the double whammy of cold winds and rain.
When I contacted an Animal Rights organization in the city to see what can be done about the issue, they told me that this particular issue is an epidemic across the city and that nothing can be done about it. The only thing that they could do was send over an Animal Welfare Officer to instruct and counsel the family on proper care and treatment of the dogs.
But even after all the counselling that was done, the family continued to keep the dogs confined to the terrace, making them bark and whine all day out of sheer boredom and frustration.
I contacted the second animal rights organization I could find.
And then a third.
I even attended an online Zoom meeting of animal welfare organizations in the city.
But nothing! Nothing could be done about the issue right on the spot. Each and every single one of them told me that they were powerless to do anything about the problem unless I was personally willing to invest my own time and effort (and probably money too) into the situation.
Basically, they all told me to go screw myself! What was more disbelieving, and this was something that I learned only later, was that the first and second AR organizations had the same managing trustees!
So it was kind of like asking for another branch of the same tree for a different kind of fruit. 😄
How bizarre is that! So that’s how I kept receiving the same standard scripted reply from each of these guys. Basically, even the most kind-hearted animal lovers working within these organizations couldn’t get these dogs out of this predicament if they wanted to. Because they couldn’t go against the system. When the problem is with the system itself, there’s nothing much else that the average employee can do, is there?
Unless I was personally willing to lodge a complaint against the perpetrators with the police, there was no way this issue could be resolved. That was the end of it.
Even PETA, the world-famous crusader of animal rights and animal welfare, told me off:
The problem with Indian law
When I persisted and kept forcing the AR organizations to lodge the complaint themselves, they completely washed their hands off the issue and stopped corresponding with me altogether. They told me that it wasn’t they who were the culprits here, but rather it was how Indian law works: the person witnessing the cruelty has to themselves file an FIR, and the Animal Rights organization will only be there to handhold and provide supporting evidence stating which sections of the law were being violated.
But here’s the thing, right?
No one wants to lodge a formal complaint for an issue they’re not even remotely related to. Heck, people want to stay away from cops even for issues in which they actually ARE entangled with!
I spoke to a couple of friends, and they narrated a few stories about how some of their friends had to move houses to get away from the dog barking menace after putting up with it for months together. No one wants to get involved with the police, wasting their time doing the rounds of police stations, courts, lawyers, hearing dates, and the whole 9 yards. Life is hard as it is. People in India have much bigger things to worry about rather than getting entangled with the police for such minor issues.
Indian police are notorious for not accepting complaints on the first instance, harassing complainants, pressurising them to drop cases, and making demands for bribes. Only after multiple rounds of nudging, prodding, raising the matter with higher officials and getting lawyers involved, do they even begin to budge from their seats. And all this is just for human related issues. Animals don’t even stand a chance! Apparently, that’s where the Animal Rights NGO comes in to put pressure on the cops to get such cases solved.
But that’s not how it should be.
I shouldn’t have to go to the police and waste the time of Indian judiciary to get a couple of dogs rescued from their tormentors. It’s the Animal Rights organizations who have to be vested with such powers to be able to confiscate animals from such appalling situations right on the spot. No wasting time with paper work and tedious bureaucratic procedures!
Lack of any animal rights bodies to intervene and bring such perpetrators to justice.
There is no animal rights body in India that’s empowered to act on their own accord. As per Indian law, when someone comes across an instance of animal cruelty (which isn’t life-threatening), an NCR (non-cognisable offence report) must be lodged at the nearest police station after which the complainant has to file an FIR, and only then will the police finally be able to do something about it. In case an animal welfare officer attempts to give a warning to the perpetrator of such cruelties listed as non-cognisable offences, meaning which there’s no immediate threat or danger to life, the perpetrator has every right to turn his back on the AWO and not comply with any of his instructions.
Poor laws and negligible punishments
Guess what the punishment in India is for cases of animal cruelty?
“And what is the punishment for such heinous crimes? If the culprit is a first time offender, the maximum punishment is Rs 50. If the culprit is a repeat offender, the maximum punishment is a fine of Rs 100 and imprisonment for three months.”
50 rupees? That’s not even a dollar! That’s how much we value the lives of these voiceless, innocent beings who are forced to co-exist with us for absolutely no fault of their own. And three months of imprisonment for the second instance? What kind of cruel joke is this?
With such paltry fine amounts and negligible punishments, it is no surprise that animal cruelty is of epidemic proportions in the country. No wonder the perpetrators of such heinous crimes don’t think twice before committing such acts. After all, they’re well aware that animal rights is a joke in India, and it’s very unlikely that they’ll be caught or prosecuted. So they take full-blown advantage of the system and have a field day with it.
The only way forward
Empowering Animal Rights Organizations and bestowing them with judicial powers, like how it is done in many developed countries, is the only way this menace can be tackled. Else, people are going to keep objectifying these animals and treating them like money making machines all throughout their lives. The dogs will never receive justice, and they’ll live their entire lives out in dark, filthy breeder cages, being nothing more than puppy manufacturing machines.
No playing fetch at the park. No long walks, no sunshine, no baths, and no belly rubs. The cold, brutal, and heartless reality of the breeding industry is the only thing they’ll be experiencing during their time on this planet, day in and day out.