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Citizens Have The Right To Feed Stray Dogs, But With Care and Caution, Says Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court (ANI Photo)

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has stated that there is a need to spread awareness that even animals have a right to live with respect and dignity.

“Community dogs (stray/street dogs) have the right to food and citizens have the right to feed community dogs but in exercising this right, care and caution should be taken to ensure that it does not impinge upon the rights of others or cause any harm, hindrance, harassment, and nuisance to other individuals or members of the society,” the court stated.

Feeding of the community dogs should be done in areas designated by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) in consultation with Resident Welfare Associations or Municipal Corporation and while deciding the designated area, the AWBI and RWA/Municipal Corporations have to take care of the fact that every community dog is a territorial being and therefore, community dogs must be fed and tended to at places within their territory, said the court.

It shall be the duty and obligation of every Resident Welfare Association or Municipal Corporation to ensure that every community dog in every area has access to food and water in the absence of caregivers or community dog feeders in the said area.

“Every dog is a territorial being, and therefore, the street dogs have to be fed and tended to at places within their territory which are not frequented or less frequented, and sparingly used by the general public and residents,” the court said.

A bench of Justice JR Midha asked AWBI to have an awareness campaign in association with several newspapers, social media platforms, as well as television and radio channels.

It also stated that AWBI shall ensure that these guidelines are disseminated through the media and AWBI shall circulate these guidelines to various Resident Welfare Associations, Municipal Authorities, Police Department.

The court also formed a committee to implement these guidelines and directed them to hold its first meeting within four weeks.

The court also stated that a copy of this judgment should be sent to the Delhi Judicial Academy in order to sensitize the judges about the directions laid down by this court.

The High Court said that dogs are the most protective and loyal species in the world and they live within their own packs and territory, adding that “Dogs are considered to be immensely intelligent beings.”

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“Animals have a right under law to be treated with compassion, respect, and dignity. Animals are sentient creatures with an intrinsic value. Therefore, protection of such beings is the moral responsibility of each and every citizen, including the governmental and non-governmental organizations,” the court stated.

“We have to show compassion towards all living creatures. Animals may be mute but we, as a society, have to speak on their behalf. No pain or agony should be caused to the animals. Cruelty to animals causes psychological pain to them. Animals breathe like us and have emotions. The animals require food, water, shelter, normal behaviour, medical care, self-determination,” added the court.

The court also issued various guidelines, including that all law enforcement authorities shall ensure that no harassment or hindrance is caused to the person feeding the street dog at the designated feeding spot and to properly implement the AWBI Revised Guidelines on Pet dogs and street dogs dated February 26, 2015.

(With ANI Inputs)

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