Submissions to Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying
The Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying published the Draft Animal Birth Control Rules 2022 vide notification dated 31st July 2022, and it was subsequently published in the Gazette of India on 26th August 2022. Comments on the draft notification were invited from the public within 60 days from the publication of the same in the Gazette of India.
We welcome the amendments proposed in the Animal Birth Control Rules (“ABC Rules”) 2022 which seek to replace the ABC Rules of 2001. We appreciate the amendments related to prescribing the obligations of the Local Authorities, Monitoring Committees and Resident Welfare Association/ Apartment Owners Associations (“RWAs/AOAs”) in the Rules. We also appreciate the provision for forming Animal Welfare Committees for resolution of conflicts related to feeding of free-ranging domestic dogs. While we value the intention underlying the revised ABC Rules of 2022, we observed that there is scope to refine and improve the Rules for proper implementation and greater impact. Following is the pointwise summary of our submissions on the Draft ABC Rules 2022:
- Using the term ‘free ranging domestic dogs’ will be more appropriate to scientifically depict the classification of domestic dogs which are not owned by individuals.
- The disposal of animal carcasses and organs as part of the ABC Rules must comply with the provisions of environmental legislations, especially Biomedical Waste Rules, 2016 to avoid overlaps and delays in the process of waste disposal, bring clarity to the law, and minimise the environmental footprint.
- The proposal to publicly announce sterilisation and vaccination drives of free ranging domestic dogs by Local Authorities must prescribe a minimum notice period to ensure support from local volunteers and must include recognized animal caretakers and representatives of RWAs/AOAs to improve transparency and trust among people.
- Once a free ranging domestic animal is sterilised and vaccinated, the same must be monitored through ear-tags with identification number for future vaccinations and to monitor the well-being of the animals.
- The local RWAs/AOAs must maintain records of sterilisation, vaccination and population of free ranging domestic animals within their locality. This will greatly help Local Authorities and Animal Welfare Organisation to plan and execute the ABC Rules, 2022 efficiently.
- Local Authorities must be mandated to publish a database of free-ranging animals sterilised and vaccinated through a publicly accessible website.
- The proposed clause on designating feeding spots must be complemented with proper guidelines, training, assistance, and must be supervised by Local Authorities.
- In the Animal Welfare Committees (“AWC”), the representative of jurisdictional Police must not be below the rank of SHO. For areas which are in or around wildlife habitats, ecologically sensitive areas, important bird areas, etc., a representative of the Forest Department of the State not below the rank of a Range Officer must be part of the AWC.
- The Monitoring Committees must include members from other relevant Ministries, State Departments and independent subject experts.
- The composition, eligibility criteria and qualifications of the members of the Inspection Team proposed to be constituted by Animal Welfare Board of India must be prescribed in the Rules itself to avoid arbitrariness and potential conflicts.
- The Rules must provide a clause for claiming compensation from the State Government for injuries and deaths resulting from free-ranging domestic animals as can be seen in other laws like the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
- As a public safety measure, the ABC Rules must have an enabling provision to permit the local authorities to translocate and rehabilitate excess populations of free-ranging domestic dogs to a shelter in case an area has already exceeded carrying capacity.
- Suitable amendments to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and ABC Rules must be made to enable a scientific plan for the population management of free-ranging domestic dogs in wildlife habitats, where they are dangerous to native wildlife.