In many apartments, petting dogs or feeding them is highly discouraged by other dwellers. In some cases, Committee members have laid down rules prohibiting pets from loitering in common areas (park, elevator) and some have even gone as far as to ban residents from keeping any pet. Apartment authorities have many-a-time also requested residents to refrain from feeding or taking care of stray dogs. After much concern from animal-loving residents & animal rights groups, the Animal Welfare Board of India has finally passed a ruling against the ill treatment that pets & street dogs often receive in apartment communities.
Here are some key pointers from this circular:
1) Committee members CANNOT ban Pets: No one from your society, not even committee members can prohibit you from keeping pets in your house. Neither can they set any restriction on the size or variety of pet breed you choose. There is no law against barking of dogs, and therefore, that cannot be cited as a valid reason for introducing a ban.
2) Pets CAN use Common Areas (Lifts, Parks, Gardens): There is no law that restricts pets from using common areas in multi-block apartment communities and no such ban can be imposed. Committee Members can however insist that residents walk their pets at a particular time (fixed with everyone’s consent).
3) Use of Leash & Cleaning droppings can be Requested: Committee members can request owners to walk their pets on a leash in common areas and to clean up after their pets in case they defecate in community premises. The Management Committee may set up certain pet defecation areas within the complex.
4) Intimidation or Threats Cannot be used Against Pet-Owners: A committee member using intimidation to make a resident “abandon” their pet is actually abetting the violation of law.
5) Animal Cruelty is a Punishable Offense: Cruelty to animals is an offense under Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act & Sections 428/429 of the Indian Penal Code. One cannot prohibit residents from feeding stray dogs, beat/drive them out of the premises or kill them. This kind of cruelty can lead to a fine or even imprisonment.
You should know: As long as you don’t violate any municipal law, you have all the right, legally and fundamentally, to keep any pet you wish to and no one can lay a ban on it.
Have you observed any resident mistreat or deliberately abuse a pet in your community? Tell us in the comments how you think your community can take a step against such cruelty.