Soon after an eight year old child in Tapaswini Colony of Patia area of Bhubaneswar was badly bitten early this month by a pet Akita dog of the locality, there has been widespread demand in the city to bring pet dogs under license regime. The Municipal Corporation has responded, saying it will soon put a regulatory system in place.
Currently, pet registration is mandatory throughout India, and all responsible pet owners must get it done with the local civic bodies. Registration charge could be a reasonable amount, say, a hundred rupees per annum. The dog owner should furnish photograph of the dog, anti-rabies certificate and pet owner’s name and address with proof.
Benefits of registration are many. In the case of a dog bite, being a pet owner of a registered dog, the owner can avoid punishment by showing the registration certificate. The certificate works as a piece of evidence that the dog is vaccinated. The pet owner can convince that the victim does not need an anti-rabies injection. In case the pet is lost, the dog tag will help. A registration certificate proves ownership of the dog in case of dispute. A registered dog is eligible to participate in dog shows. Breeding of unregistered dogs is prohibited and therefore in case one is interested to breed dogs for earning, the dog needs to be registered.
Registration with Kennel Club of India (KCI) too helps. The central purpose of getting registered with KCI is to take preventive action on rabies and leptospirosis. KCI provides a microchip fitted collar along with a registration certificate. The microchips contain all information about the pet.
No housing society, as per law, can disallow pets, nor can it ban on basis of the pet’s breed or size. Dogs barking habits would not be a ground for banning it. The pet is entitled to use common facilities like the elevator and park. Every citizen is required to be compassionate to the animals. At the same time there has to be an arrangement that ensures satisfactory community living without hampering it. A well thought out set of pet rules has to be followed in a housing society. It needs to be kept in view that the housing society cannot make dog harassment rules.
A Housing Society is free to frame and enforce rules and regulations for keeping pets and ensure welfare of both residents and pets. Pet guidelines should aim at peaceful community living. Guidelines could prescribe time slots when the pets can access gardens, parks, and grounds. The management committee of the housing society can ask for vaccination and sterilization records in case issues arise. Guidelines can be on designating defecation spots. Society can cordon off areas where the pet owners can take their pets for defecation. Society can advise and enforce pet owners to clean up after their dogs have eased themselves. Society can ensure that when the pet is out of the house and in the society premises, it must be accompanied by the owner or his family member.
For the convenience of those residents who wish to feed stray dogs, the society could earmark designated feeding spots not close to residential area or children’s playing area. The society could liaise with Animal Welfare Organisations and involve interested residents in vaccination and sterilization of stray dogs and ensure that after vaccination, the dogs are released in the same locality they were brought from.
While there is need for quick action for a satisfactory regulatory arrangement for city’s pet dogs, there is urgent need for citizens’ safety against thousands of street dogs in Bhubaneswar. The performance of the Government and the Municipal Corporation, in this area has been grossly inadequate. Sterilisation drive has been half-hearted and has not yielded results. Inadequate funding and shortage of manpower have allowed dog population to increase unchecked posing risk to human life. Vaccination drive is hardly made.
Citizens have chosen their own way to save themselves from street dogs. While many, like me, have chosen to carry a stick, some advocate use of an appropriate dog whistle and dog deterrent spray. Some useful tips for staying safe around an aggressive stray dog include (i) avoiding eye contact, (ii) standing sideways to the dog (iii) let the dog approach and sniff you while you do not make sudden body movement that could frighten the dog and trigger a bite, (iv) yawning, and (v) licking your lips.
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