Indian religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism have forever preached kindness and compassion to animals. Despite such a rich culture and heritage, animal cruelty is rampant and commonplace in India. In today’s world of consumerism, animals are soft targets for anyone trying to make a clever buck and the animals thus fall to this exploitation. The government came up with The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (PCA) to rescue the animals from such exploitation and various statutory bodies have been set up, but still, the pace of animal welfare and protection is moving at snail’s pace.
Neglect of Street Dogs after birth control procedure
Animal organizations after performing Animal Birth Control surgeries often release dogs into a neighborhood different from where they were picked. These dogs are light after the surgeries and after being placed in a new area are quite defenseless to attacks by existing community dogs. These crimes can at times be fatal.
Recently Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has declared an advisory to the state governments to stop using new battery cages and phase out existing ones by 2017. India is the 3rd largest producer of eggs with 70% of the produce sourced from commercial poultry farmers. They restrict the hens to battery cages where each bird has a space less than an A4 sheet of paper. This is a clear assault of the PCA Act which requires caged animals to be provided a reasonable opportunity for movement.
Cosmetic Testing on Animals
India’s Union Health Ministry lately raised draft rules imposing a nationwide ban on testing cosmetics on animals. Bureau of Indian Standard rules was revised to authenticate the ban. But there is still a loophole under which animal tested products can be imported into the country. An import and sales refusal of such products also needs to be in place. Drug Technical Advisory Committee, the eminent health advisory body in India has recommended banning such products. PETA had earlier received an undertaking from Air India where the shuttle stated that it would refuse to transport the animal to laboratories. But now Air India has backtracked after bucking below pressure from animal experimenters.
Last year the Indian Government declared that it will not allow the building of dolphinariums in India and they will be banned collectively. Dolphins survive poorly in captivity and are subject to stress, aggression from pool mates and unanticipated death. India lists all whales and dolphins in the schedule of its Wildlife Protection Act, prohibiting their slaughter and capture.
Meat and Dairy Industry
As of now, the Indian dairy industry is developing at a brisk pace but still is not able to meet the market requirement. Maximum of cattle breeders use Oxytocin, a schedule H drug, notwithstanding its use being illegal. The drug is used so that the cattle can produce generous quantities of milk. Its side effects make the cattle suffer severe stomach cramps that feel like labor pains. It works like a slow poison after regular consumption and with a passage of time gives rise to different diseases. Normally, a cow lives up to 18 years but because of being milked day and night it lives only for six or seven years and is later sent to slaughterhouses for their meat and skin.
In India, it is technically prohibited to kill healthy, young cattle. Butcheries have found a way around this and they intentionally maim healthy animals so that they can declare fit for slaughter. Horrors insert their throats being slit in full view of other animals and being skinned alive. In spite of the central government directives regarding animal welfare, little has been done on the ground.
Elephants in captivity
Lately, PETA carried out a review of elephants in Jaipur which showed widespread and rampant abuse of captive elephants used for tourist activities. After the findings were shown to the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), it rejected its permission to use elephants in the year-long elephant festival leading to the cancellation of the event.
In spite of a directive from the Ministry of Environment and Forests instructing educational institutions to follow UGC guidelines for ending animal dissection and experimentation, University of Delhi forces students to dissect animals. This is occurring in spite of the fact that there is virtual dissection software available.
Animal Cruelty in circuses
After enduring complaints of ill-treatment of animals in circuses, Central Zoo Authority and AWBI recently circulated show cause notices to 16 circuses. The notice stated that it is regarding withdrawing the recognition of circuses as a ‘captive animal facility’, thereby making it illegal for the shows to keep wild animals.
The reality of law enforcement
All these events above illustrate that though there has been some development with regard to animal welfare the apathy of government officials is slowing down the pace. There is no synchronization among various government departments. Whatever little the government does is after being constantly nagged and pushed by various animal rights organizations and activists. Also, the role of Indian Judiciary needs to be complimented for waking the government from their nap on the issue of animal welfare.
Possibly the government does not consider this as an extraordinary issue because there is hardly any pressure on them to do so. It is particularly when the people will raise their voice en masse, the government will be bound to take some concrete action rather than merely offering lip service.
The government requires to be proactive and take suo moto action whenever they come across cruelty to animals. The PCA Act demands the state governments to set up Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in every district, but animal activists allege that blocking a few almost every other SPCA is ineffective.
Senseless cruelty to animals is an early indication of future criminality. In a paper written in The International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Technology, it asserts that the FBI has since the late ’70s admitted animal cruelty to be a possible indication of future serial murderers. This is all the more reason why the government should take active steps to curb and watch this inhumane practice of animal cruelty.
What can you do?
When you come over any instance of illegal animal cruelty as discussed above, do not feel that you are helpless or that you cannot do anything. By using the law creatively, we can make the lives of wrongdoers tough – and occurrence says that any resistance goes a very long way to prevent cruelty towards an animal.
Step 1: Inform local animal lovers or NGOs – but do not assume that they will do everything. They will surely offer some guidance – but they are also very resource-strapped, always. You need to take effect and not be a burden on them. If they can help though, that is awesome. You should notify them anyway, in case you need some backup and support.
Step 2: Face the perpetrators. Tell them that they are doing something unlawful and that you are going to lodge a charge with the police unless they put an immediate end to it. Note that if what they are doing involves wildlife, they are in for severe trouble. Wildlife includes everything apart from a few domestic animals like dogs, cats, cows, buffalos, farm birds like chicken. Monkey, snakes, elephant, bear, most birds including parrots are wildlife and harming or capturing them is a serious crime that involves imprisonment. If domestic creatures are being hurt unreasonably or unnecessarily, it is still a sin under the law for which there is a punishment although it is just a very insignificant penalty. Even then, if you file a police complaint the perpetrators will be troubled and tell them that.
Step 3:If they do not listen, record evidence of their wrongdoing on the phone. This will discourage them. Also, tell them that you will share the cassette on social media.
Step 4: Along with the tape go to the police station and lodge complaint. If wildlife is involved, inform the wildlife department also. Police may be indifferent and refuse to lodge the complaint. Tell them that if they refuse to take it you will send it to the SP directly by registered post. Also, tell them that many people from animal rights NGOs will come to insist if they do not register a complaint.
Step 5: Inform animal rights NGO people to take medical care of the hurt animal if necessary.
An additional step in case of serious or recurring instances:
Contact the Honorary Animal Welfare Officer (HAWO) of your nation and inform him about the ill-treatment being meted out. The list of HAWO along with their contact details can be found on the Animal Welfare Board of India website, awbi.org. The HAWO is needed to bring the incidents of cruelty to wild animals directly to the notice of Wildlife Department. The HAWO shall also report to and influence the enforcement agencies of the State Government to take immediate remedial action in cases pertaining to cruelty/abuse of any animals, including domestic animals.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.“