In September 2018, the central government issued a notification that spelt out new pet shop rules, much awaited and welcomed by animal lovers. However, five months later, the status quo continues, with no signs of implementation, as the rules continue to be flouted blatantly, and the defenceless pet store animals suffer, say animal lovers
Last year, when the centre came up with new pet shop rules, animal lovers and animal welfare workers across India rejoiced. No person can operate a pet shop without a certificate of registration from the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI); an animal enclosure should be of adequate size for the animal to stand, sit, lie down, turn around and stretch and make other normal postural adjustments; birds should be able to fly, hop, jump, climb, spread their wings and perch in the normal position; enclosures with mesh floors should have trays; the temperature of the enclosure should be comfortable – these were only some of the mandates as per the rules by the government notification issued on September 6, 2018. It has been over five months since the advisory, but implementation of the pet shop rules? Zero.
Consider this: as many as 25-30 birds stuffed in a battery cages, mesh floors with no trays, big dog breeds kept in small cages, as many as 20 rabbits in one small enclosure, felines cooped up and unattended, exhibiting lethargic behaviour in the absence of engagement; no certificates on display – these are only some of the rules being flouted in Bengaluru’s pet shops.A trip to Russell Market will leave you staring. Walk around and you come across shops with exotic birds and other pets that will make your eyes go wide with pure joy but at the same time, the harsh conditions in which they are housed will leave you appalled.
While the notification,
mentioned under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Pet Shop) Rules, mandates
shutting down of pet stores running without any registration even after 60 days
of the issuing of the notification, most of the uncertified pet stores in the
city are still up and open.
When THT enquired with the pet shop owners in Russell market about the certification rule, ignorance and apathy was apparent. “This shop has been handed over to the next generation since my grandfather’s time. Moreover, even if we want to register ourselves, we don’t know where we must get it done. These rules are only for people with money to shell out. The rules on cage size and temperature control are of international standards and not for poor shop owners like us. We have only this much space to keep all the animals,” said a pet shop owner in Russell Market on the condition of anonymity.
It is not just about lack of awareness and will power – a reality check of these pet stores shows that almost all the rules mentioned in the notification are being blatantly ignored. For example, one of the rules says, the bird(s) kept in cages should be able to fly, hop, move about, spread their wings, and perch in the normal position without obstruction. However, reality bites hard when you find at least 25-35 lovebirds in a 4×5 ft cage, making it impossible for them to be at ease.
According to another rule under the notification, “No pet animals or birds shall be on display, or displayed outside pet shops, or in show windows.” However, the ground reality is different. Traffic noise and pollution aren’t less as well around these shops. The birds could either be seen just sitting on small perches or caged along the walls of the shops as well as outside on display.
When it comes to bigger animals like dogs, cats and rabbits, the situation is no less grim. Lack of space, no engaging activity, absence of clean drinking water and unfavourable temperature of enclosures or the pet shops as a whole, creates an uncomfortable environment for them.
A famous pet shop near Commercial Street has adult labradors and golden retrievers in crates big enough just to accommodate them. The dogs have no space to walk around in, other than going round and round inside the cages.
While dogs are crammed in small spaces, cats were seen huddled in the corners of cages, not getting any free space to play or walk in. No toys could be seen for them, aside from those on shelves on sale. The kittens were usually seen sleeping in their cages which might be indicative of bad physical or mental health.
The rabbits in many pet stores were seen in the cages that abided by the minimum space requirements and nothing more. There were about 20-30 of the white creatures each, in the two cages, all crammed together with no space to move. Some shops had rabbits in the corner but these shops were unhygienic, dusty and noisy due to the noise pollution from outside.
According to an employee of a pet store in Russell Market, who spoke on condition of anonymity, such rules are made just for the sake of having them on paper. “Bengaluru doesn’t have a place where any individual who is willing to open a pet store with live animals can register; most animal certificates are forged and bought illegally. While international pet breeds are purchased at high prices, they have the worst living conditions.”
According to Dr Vaseem Shahid, head in-charge, Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA) hospital, Bengaluru, strict vigilance by the city’s municipal body is the only way to ensure the rules are followed. “People have accepted the guidelines from the government but at the ground level, nothing is being implemented. If you need to have a live animal pet store, you must have at least 24,000 sq feet of space. Can you see any store that big? There is even an order that these animals must not be caged. Puppies or dogs should not be caged, they should be allowed with much mobility. There is a set guidelines but none of them are implemented,” said Dr Vaseem.
When THT tried to contact BBMP officials, they chose not to answer the calls.
Some highlights of the pet shop rules:
- No person can operate a pet shop or carry on the business of trade in pet animals without a certificate of registration from the concerned State Animal Welfare Board.
- Any pet shop without a valid certificate of registration, or the failure of the person to apply for the same within a specified time period, will result in the sealing of the pet shop.
- Application for registration must be made to the State Board with a non-refundable fee of 5,000 INR.
- The rules provide standards for accommodation, infrastructure, housing, general care, veterinary care and other operational requirements. These include guidelines on enclosures or aviaries of adequate size and space, the elimination of wire mesh for the floors of the enclosures, a health certificate from a veterinary practitioner for every animal on sale.
- Every pet shop owner shall maintain a record book with the particulars of breeders and suppliers of pet animals, trade transactions, customer records, and health register.
- On receipt of a complaint for non-compliance of these rules by pet shop owners, an inquiry will be conducted through the local authority or SPCA. Animals found to be ill-treated or sick shall be confiscated and sent to a recognised animal welfare organisation for treatment on expense of the pet shop owner.
- In case of violations during the inspection, the State Board shall issue the owners a notice of show cause.
- Every registered pet shop owner is required to submit an annual report to the State Board detailing the total number of animals traded, boarded or exhibited during the previous year.
Note: Image for representation purpose only