Animal welfare
From an arbitrary list of 'approved dog breeds' to excluding stakeholders from discussions, BBMP's byelaws have several flaws.

The BBMP’s pet dog licensing byelaws, approved on Monday, have incensed several people in Bengaluru. What has caught the most attention is the limit on the number of dogs one can have, based on whether they live in an apartment (one dog) or an independent house (three dogs).

However, what’s made the byelaws even more unpopular with pet owners and dog lovers in the city is a list of “approved” dog breeds that can be kept as pets in residential apartments. While uncommon breeds like Affenpinscher, Australian Silky Terrier, Bichon Frise and Coton de tulear are on the list, it does not include popular ones like Golden Retrievers, Beagles or the Indie (stray dogs). 

“It appears that there has been no homework, no conversation with those who have pets to understand their feelings towards their four-legged companion. It seems like a shoddy copy paste job from a foreign law,” says Dr Pawan, a veterinary surgeon with Cessna in Bengaluru.

And it appears that he may be right, for this list bears eerie similarity to another one put up by the Singapore Housing and Development Board. The Bengaluru list adds the Mudhol, Labrador and Dalmation, but the rest appear to be the same.

Here is the list of dog breeds allowed as pets in Bengaluru:

This is the list of dog breeds allowed as pets in Singapore:

Most of the breeds approved by BBMP, save those like Labrador and Dalmation, seem to be small dogs.  

Dr Pawan says that Golden Retrievers, Dobermans, Labradors, German Shepherds, Beagles, Pugs and the Indian stray form a majority of the pets that people have. “We do have the rare exotic breed – but their owners are usually villa owners who have the space and the resources to maintain and care for the breed,” he says.

He, like many other pet owners and animal welfare activists, agrees that the list seems to be a badly researched attempt at streamlining pets in the city.

According to a rebuttal to these byelaws put together by concerned citizens and legal experts under the CJ Memorial Trust, the following reasons make the demarcation of “approved” breeds problematic.

They argue that some of the breeds are unheard of, and say it appears as though the BBMP is trying to promote some breeders. The byelaws also do not specify what will happen if someone has a large dog or one of the non-approved breeds.

“It is also a setback to the whole ‘Adopt Don’t Shop‘ campaign which we have been working so hard towards. Anyway the families which come to shelters to adopt indies are looking to take it as their second dog. Now with the one dog per apartment limit, who will take the indies in?” questions Sudha Narayanan, Founder Trustee of Charlie’s Animal Rescue Centre (CARE).

And even though the list seems to promote smaller breeds, the CJ Memorial Trust’s rebuttal points out that it does not include popular small dogs such as the Cocker Spaniel.

What makes these byelaws even more problematic is that they are retrospective.

“It is very simple – you cannot ask people who have dogs to give them up,” Dr Pawan says.

“The idea behind the byelaws seems to have been to regulate pets and their rearing in the city but the way they have gone about it is not good. They could have started with having checks on the space, financial capacity and other facilities a person can provide if they want a particular breed from the time of implementation. But they have not done that,” he adds.

Several outspoken animal lovers and activists also say that the BBMP should be concentrating on Animal Birth Control (ABC). Dr Pawan agrees. “This situation would not have arisen if the authorities concentrated on ABC and had proper registration and licensing of pets in the first place. They would have known then what breeds are popular in the city and not come up with this badly researched list,” Dr Pawan says.