Dog animal husbandry has become a multi-crore industry, involving thousands of breeders and pet shops. Like any business of this magnitude, safeguards must be in place to ensure transparency.
If your four-legged friend is from one of India’s many unlicensed breeders, it’s quite possible that he’s the product of intensive and potentially inhumane breeding practices.
After years of campaigning by animal welfare organisations, the government has stepped in to tackle some of the animal cruelty issues associated with commercial dog breeding. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Breeding and Trading of Dogs) Rules 2017 were promulgated by the Department of Environment and Forests at the end of May 2017. Here are 10 reasons why we should all celebrate these new rules:
1. According to the new rules, each breeder must have a registration certificate, issued after an inspection by the National Board of Animal Welfare, and renewable every two years. This should put an end to some of the most extreme cases of animal cruelty found on commercial farms, including dogs kept in cages for long periods of time without adequate food or access to veterinary care.
2. Persons who have been convicted of an offense under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (or Wildlife Protection Act) are not eligible to be registered as breeders, which permanently eliminates the worst offenders from the system.
3. The National Animal Welfare Council now has the right to inspect any breeding establishment for any reason, including upon receipt of a complaint from the public. If you come across dogs held for sale inappropriately, you now have the power to ensure the situation is looked at seriously.
4. Overall, the new rules offer a stronger hand in dealing with breeders and separating those who breed irresponsibly by holding violators of the new rules accountable. If violators are discovered by the State Animal Welfare Board, they can revoke licenses and file complaints with the police.
5. Another advantage of the new regulations is that they specify that puppies cannot be sold before they are eight weeks old. Studies show that dogs can develop social anxiety if separated from their mothers and littermates before this age.
Separating them too soon also often leads to behavioral problems, creating an often difficult situation for both owner and dog.
6. Due to lack of proper care, puppies in mass commercial breeding are often sick, weak and generally unhealthy animals, leading to high mortality. Under the new rules, only vaccinated dogs that meet certain health criteria can be sold. Every puppy sold must be microchipped and their treatment and vaccinations must be properly recorded. This makes it much easier for buyers to track the care their dog has received and also encourages breeders to take care of dog health.
7. Impulse purchases based on appearance alone are common. This often leads to dog abandonment when buyers are not properly counseled to ensure the dog is a good choice. The new rules explicitly state that breeders must not display dogs in public places for immediate sale, giving them time to advise buyers to ensure they can care for the dog.
8. Some of the worst cases of animal cruelty involve “breeding” dogs. It is common for female dogs to breed twice a year for several years, with little or no veterinary care.
The rules require the breeder to keep records of all animals in the facility, including “breeding” dogs, ensuring their welfare as well.
9. The practice of abandoning (or even killing) dogs that do not meet arbitrary standards or are no longer “useful” (e.g. “breeding” dogs that are no longer fertile) is a major problem of cruelty. Abandonment is not only traumatic for the animal, but also contributes to the street dog population. It is also a major strain on the resources of animal rescue centers.
Breeders must now rehabilitate unsold puppies within six months through an animal welfare organization. They must also keep a complete record of the number of dogs born or died in their care. A veterinarian must record the cause of death, after performing an autopsy.
10. Purebred dogs, by their very nature, have a range of genetic problems due to generations of selective breeding. For example, Saint Bernards have hip and elbow dysplasia, Pugs have skin and breathing problems, etc. Inbreeding can make these traits worse. The new rules require better record keeping. Thus, there are disincentives to breeding dogs with close relatives, as there is a paper trail available to potential buyers.
While dog breeding and marketing rules are a step in the right direction, they will only work if consumers are aware of them and refuse to buy puppies from unlicensed sellers.
Learn about HSI’s ongoing campaigns and how you can help on the website.