By Darshak Shah*
With apartment complexes becoming the norm and more and more activists and residents actively engaging in taking care of their pets and stray dogs, it becomes important for people to understand their duties, rights, and responsibilities for the welfare of their pets and their neighbours.
Residents often find letters taped to their apartment’s notice boards that delegate (extremely weird) laws related to pet dog owners, residents, pets, street dogs, and end up submitting to it mostly because they’re unaware of the by-laws or guidelines already in place.
Guidelines for the ones who take care of street dogs
Now there are many who take care of the ownerless, stray dogs selflessly – they often feed them leftovers or prepare food for them, offer them warm dog clothes in winters and silently take care of them.
Even if the Indian Constitution advises peaceful coexistence among all creatures and lists it as one of our Fundamental Duties [Article 51(g)] to show compassion to all living creatures, things are not as simple as they look!
- Those who take care of street dogs are also advised to participate in their sterilization and to assist animal welfare organizations in taking good care of their health.
- Care-givers are advised not to feed street dogs near residences that do not belong to them, places immediately adjacent to areas in which children play, areas in which people take walks or in places that are generally crowded.
- Care-givers cannot be forced to control the defecation habits of strays but are advised to participate in it.
- They are also advised to keep a record of sterilization of dogs and share the information with residents.
Guidelines for pet dog owners living in society apartments
Pet owners often find themselves in conflict with other residents in a society when it comes to their pets. To clarify, here are some guidelines for pet owners and other residents of the society:
- Pet owners rightly can consider their pets as family members but they have to ensure their pets don’t cause inconvenience to others.
- No Residents’ Welfare Association has a right to ban residents from keeping pets in their apartments, not even by getting a majority vote in the society with help of other tenants or residents. Doing so is a violation of the law.
- Barking, which is a natural form of expression of a dog, has to be tolerated in a society. Pet owners must make an effort to keep their dogs quiet, especially during night hours.
- If pet owners abide by the municipal laws regarding pets then no civic body hasa right to ban pets or their owners from the society.
- No pets can be banned from lifts. No ban or special charges can be imposed on pet owners for using lifts with their pets.
- Leashing the dog is advisable (but not compulsory) when the dog is taken out for walks. It will make people around feel safe. Leashing also ensures safety of the pet from being run over by vehicles.
- Even if Residents’ Welfare Association cannot impose fine on any pet owners who do not clean their pet’s excreta, they can request pet owners to clean up after their dogs defecate in order to maintain cleanliness in the society.
*Author is an avid animal lover and rescuer from Mumbai. He has been into rescues and treatments for past 10 years. He works as a content writer and website designer for an NGO named ‘Helping Hands for Animals’.