The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) is set to adopt guidelines with regard to the selection of feeding points for stray dogs. Officials say the rules will soon come into effect across the city. However, Resident Welfare Associations say they are yet to be consulted though they welcome the move.
Based on the directions issued to the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) by the Delhi High Court in March this year, all municipalities across the country have been asked to identify feeding spots for stray dogs. The AWBI has also issued directions to the Chief Secretaries of all states and union territories with regard to setting up such spots, reported The Hindu.
Speaking to TNM, an official with the GHMC said that guidelines have already been formed and are pending approval from higher-ups. "It will be implemented very soon. There has been resistance from certain quarters about fixing feeding spots for dogs. We have to raise awareness, convince and make them understand that this is good for the community,β the official said. He added that the GHMC was proactive by providing food and water for stray dogs during the nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19 in 2020.
This is also not the first time that regulations have been laid down on feeding stray animals by the courts. The Delhi High court in 2010 had issued regulations for feeding stray dogs, but those were never implemented. According to the then regulation, representatives of AWBI are to work with the local Station House Officer and the RWA members to identify feeding spots for the stray dogs.
The RWAs in Hyderabad are yet to be contacted by the GHMC with regard to the effort to identify feeding spots, said BT Srinivas, General Secretary for the United-Federation of Resident Welfare Associations (U-FERWAS), while welcoming the guidelines. βThe temperatures are crossing 40-degree Celsius and the stray dogs are badly affected by the heat. I am seeing efforts being taken by people to leave drinking water bowls and leftover food for the dogs in open areas. Since the COVID-19 lockdown people have become more sympathetic to stray dogs. There is a slow change of attitude, many even consider stray dogs an added security to their street that ward off unknown people.β
The direction to all states to implement the guidelines for feeding stray animals came based on a plea filed in the Delhi High Court by Urvashi Vashist. The petitioner had alleged that the Resident Welfare Association of Vasant Kunj, Delhi, was creating hindrance while trying to feed stray dogs. The court, in this instance, directed the AWBI representatives along with the police and the RWA members to identify feeding spots for the dogs. The issue came to the forefront again after an instance in March where three members of a family in Delhi were briefly held hostage in their car after locals objected to them feeding stray dogs.
A circular issued by the AWBI in 2014 states there is no law in India that prohibits the feeding of street animals. "Citizens who choose to do so are in fact performing a duty cast upon them by the Constitution of India β of showing compassion to all living creatures. Various Courts, including High Courts, have upheld street dog feeding since the same reduces human β animal conflict and suspicion, and facilitates animal birth control (by making dog catching easier)."