INDIA: On Friday, the Supreme Court emphasised the necessity to find a solution to the nuisance posed by stray dogs while suggesting that persons who regularly feed stray dogs might be held financially responsible for their immunisation as well as for any costs incurred should those animals attack people.
The highest court ruled that there must be a balance between human safety and animal rights. “Some solution has to be found,” a bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and JK Maheshwari declared. The court’s observation came while hearing a petition regarding stray dogs’ menace in Kerala.
The majority of us are dog lovers, and I also feed dogs, so I had an idea: Let people care for dogs if they want, but they must be marked; I’m not in favour of tracking them using a chip. Justice Khanna made this observation.
The top court ruled that the problem of stray dogs needed to be addressed rationally. It scheduled the case for hearing on September 28 and requested that the parties submit their responses.
Advocate VK Biju, appearing for the Kerala government, told the apex court that eight people had died since August. He told the court that schoolboys and women are being attacked by aggressive dogs in public places.
The advocate also highlighted the recent death of a 12-year-old victim in Kerala.Biju cited a 2015 Kerala High Court order to euthanize stray dogs as per local laws. The court set September 28 as the next date for hearing the case.
India has 1.5 billion dog bite cases.
According to data, India has seen more than 1.5 billion animal bite occurrences since 2019. Uttar Pradesh (27,52,218), Tamil Nadu (20,70,921), Maharashtra (15,75,606), and West Bengal were the states with the most cases (12,09,232). Lakshadweep, on the other hand, reported no dog bite incidents during that time.
Animal bite instances peaked in 2019 at a staggering 72,77,523, then fell to 46,33,493 in 2020 and 17,01,133 the following year. However, there were over 14.5 lakh incidents in just the first seven months of 2022. Tamil Nadu (251,510 cases) and Maharashtra recorded the most instances this year (231,531). Furthermore, India reports around 100 rabies cases and fatalities each year.
However, there have been many more strays than pets involved in dog bite instances. The number of stray dogs in India has decreased from 1,71,38,349 in 2012 to 1,53,09,355 as of 2019. In Uttar Pradesh (20,59,261), Odisha (17,34,399), and Maharashtra, there are the most stray dogs (12,76,399). Zero stray dogs were reported in Manipur, Lakshadweep, and Dadra & Nagar Haveli.
Several petitions regarding orders issued by various local bodies regarding the culling of stray dogs that have become a problem, particularly in Kerala and Mumbai, have been heard by the top court.
NGOs and private individuals have petitioned the supreme court to overturn judgements made by various high courts, notably the Kerala High Court and the Bombay High Court, to permit local authorities to handle the stray dog problem by the law.