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It was Gandhi who said that “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” India has always been a country that knows how to value nature in all forms.

Over the years some of us have lost our way and then there are some differing views as there always will be. The basic rights of animals and the people who care for them are included in the Constitution of this country.

So, if you are an animal lover who does feed and care for street animals,
here are some rules put forward by the Constitution of India to protect the voiceless and the people who are working towards their welfare:

1. There are no laws that prohibit people from feeding stray animals.
Feeding stray animals is our constitutional right and is in fact a duty cast upon us by the Constitution of India – of showing compassion to all living creatures. Courts uphold feeding of street dogs as it reduces human-animal conflict and suspicion. It also and helps to keep them in one neighbourhood which further facilitates efficient birth control and annual vaccination. Attempts to interfere or harass people who choose to look after community dogs may amount to the very grave offence of criminal intimidation.

2. It is a criminal offence to feed poisonous food to stray animals.
If held responsible, one can be charged under Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 punishable by imprisonment and fine.

3. It is illegal to maim or cause any injury to any animal.
The right is protected by Sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code and The Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960. If a person is found violating these laws, a case can be filed or can be reported to the local animal protection group and even to the police. The AWBI guidelines state, “Any aggression or hostility that the dogs may be subjected to, may render them aggressive, and hostile to humans. They may then resort to snapping and biting in self-defense. If the same happens, the human aggressors shall be the only ones to blame.”

4. No sterilised dogs can be relocated from their area.
As per five different High Court orders, sterilised dogs have to remain in their original areas. In case a dog isn’t sterilised, officials from an animal welfare organisation can be contacted to sterilise and vaccinate the dog. Street dogs cannot be beaten or driven away or dumped elsewhere or killed. They can merely be sterilised in the way specified in the Animal Birth Control Rules 2001, vaccinated and released back into their home locations. Dogs, being territorial in nature, do not allow new dogs to enter their area thereby naturally limiting the number of dogs in a given territory. The rule has been made in cognisance of this fact.

5. The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) issues IDs for people who feed colony animals/birds.
One can obtain the application form on AWBI’s official site. The ID protects the
rights of people who feed and care for colony animals and birds. The registration form for this can be obtained from here: http://www.awbi.org/awbi-pdf/caretakers.pdf

Please access the complete set of guidelines put forward by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) for pet owners, care-givers of street dogs, Resident Welfare Associations and Apartment Owner Associations, here: http://www.awbi.org/awbi-pdf/pet_dog_circular_26_2_2015.pdf

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