Human Lives More Important Than Stray Dogs, Pet Lovers Have To Be Responsible: High Court

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala High Court has urged animal lovers to collaborate with local authorities in safeguarding stray dogs.

Hearing a case of human-animal conflict, the court stressed on the importance of protecting dogs without jeopardising human safety, and urged sincere dog lovers to obtain licences to protect and keep stray dogs.

“I am of the considered opinion that the dog lovers need not write and speak for the dogs in print and visual media, but they should come forward to protect these dogs if there are bonafides in their words along with the Local Self Government Institutions. The bonafide dog lovers can be given licence if they are ready to protect the stray dogs in tune with the provisions of ABC Rules 2023 and other statutory provisions,” Justice P V Kunhikrishnan stated.

Acknowledging the danger posed by stray dogs towards young children, adolescents and the elderly, the court emphasised on the importance of safeguarding stray dogs without endangering human lives.

“The stray dogs are creating a menace in our society. Children are afraid to go alone to their school because of the apprehension that they will be attacked by stray dogs. If any action is taken against stray dogs, dog lovers will come and fight for them. But I am of the considered opinion that human beings should be given more preference than stray dogs. Of course, the barbaric attack on stray dogs by human beings also should not be allowed,” Justice Kunhikrishnan said.

Victimised by the actions of animal enthusiast Rajeev Krishnan, residents of Muzhathadam Ward in Kannur district had filed an application with the high court. They alleged that in a densely-populated residential area, whenever a stray dog is harmed, injured or sick, Rajeev, a resident of the ward, takes it home to provide care and subsequently shelters it in his residence.

The grievance was that Rajeev kept numerous dogs in his residence without being able to provide them with adequate care, leading to the premises becoming unclean, untidy, and emitting unpleasant odour, causing inconvenience to the neighbours.

Rajeev argued that his family has a deep affection for animals, and he provides food and care for them on his property. He mentioned that Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Kannur also relies on his support.

The court ruled that a person cannot keep a dog without a licence from the secretary, citing sections 435 to 438 of Kerala Municipality Act, 1994. Also, animals shall not be kept on persons’ premises if they disturb others.

The high court directed Rajeev to approach Kannur Corporation to obtain a permission to maintain stray dogs on his premises.

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