Here are some guidelines to follow if you wish to feed strays in your area.

Is it legal to feed stray dogs Bluru man alleges harassment by cops for doing soImage for representation. Courtesy Frederic Spychar/Flickr
news Animals Friday, March 31, 2017 - 17:10

Rohith Chandrashekar recalls the afternoon of March 24 bitterly. The 34-year-old alleges that he was pulled up by the local police for the third time in the past few months for the same reason. “I was made to stand without shoes from 3.30pm to 8.30pm, without a phone or any other way to contact my family,” alleges Rohith.

The Bengaluru-based engineer has been feeding eight stray dogs in his locality in Thanisandra for about four years now – something he says has irked a majority of his neighbours.

“They (police) even tried to make me give in writing that I will not feed stray dogs,” alleges Rohith. He continues that while he wrote the letter initially, he tore it up later when his father and brother-in-law arrived at the Sampigehalli police station.

The beginning of the conflict

In the 35-acre colony that Rohith lives in, he says that there are about 40-50 stray dogs. Of these, Rohith feeds eight in his vicinity either before 5am or after 11.30pm. “I chose those times because I did not want conflict or the dogs to be in others’ way when I feed them. But the Resident Welfare Association (RWA) and some neighbours told me not to feed the dogs here some 3-4 years back,” says Rohith.

The RWA has also been discussing relocating these dogs, even though Rohith told them it is illegal. Then, about four months ago, he claims that the neighbours started a signature campaign of sorts, against him and for relocating the dogs. That was also the first time he was warned by the police officers in the area to stop feeding the dogs.

He received the second warning from the police earlier this month, when Rohith says a neighbour’s young daughter fell down as she was chased by a stray dog. However, the neighbour in question told Nolan Pinto for India Today that his daughter had been bitten by the strays.

Rohith alleges that his family too was harassed. Though these allegations are debatable, dog lovers do face plenty of problems when they go about feeding strays. Top on the list of complaints is that they are causing a public nuisance by feeding street dogs.

Legality of feeding strays

What are your rights if you want to feed stray dogs? Can the police arrest or detain you for it?

Jayamsimha Nuggehalli, advocate and Managing Director of Humane Society International, India, says that feeding strays is absolutely within the law. However, there are some guidelines one must follow.

According to the Delhi High Court judgments from 2009 and 2010, not only is it within the law but by feeding these animals, people are performing what is a fundamental duty in the Constitution – that of showing compassion to all living creatures,” says Jayasimha.

Feeders however, must follow guidelines like feeding strays at places not frequented by people, not herding the animals to a spot for feeding and feeding them at a time when there is less footfall in the area.

Feeders can also get ‘feeder cards’ which are issued by the AWB. Rohith plans to get one soon – it will essentially mean that he is authorized as a feeder, but also that he will have to follow all the guidelines that come with it.

According to the Animal Welfare Board (AWB) newsletter, the Delhi HC also designated the AWB to mark places where people can feed the animals without being hassled by other residents. It also said that the police must protect these feeders too.

It is also illegal to relocate stray dogs. According to the (Dogs) Rules 2001, once a dog has been captured by the local authorities for sterilization, it must be released back into the same area, making their relocation illegal.

Jayasimha also says that relocation, or culling for that matter, are completely unscientific ways of controlling stray dog population.

“Studies have proven time and again that if you relocate dogs, it’s merely going to increase dogs in that area. Strays are territorial, so if there is space, neighbouring dogs will try to come and claim it. Similarly, if you relocate a dog, it will create more nuisance in the neighbourhood it is relocated to because the resident dogs will get aggressive,” he explains.

Further, feeders actually make carrying out Animal Birth Control much easier. “Because the dogs know the feeder, the latter is able to easily coax the dog to get into a vehicle. The experience becomes much less traumatising for the dog also,” Jayamsimha says.

In Rohith’s case, Jayamsimha says that he was within the law. “With our limited knowledge of Rohith’s case, if the police have indeed done what he claims, it amounts to police atrocity. He should ideally take it up with the police disciplinary body,” Jayasimha says.

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