[Stray Dog Menace] Kerala HC Reminds State Govt of its Duties to Protect Citizens from Attacks by Ferocious Dogs

Sakina Tashrifwala

Published on: September 15, 2022 at 22:20 IST

The Kerala High Court reminded the State Government of its responsibility to safeguard civilians from attacks by vicious stray dogs in light of the frequent reports of dog bites throughout the State.

The State government was ordered to submit a report on the measures it intends to take in this respect, including for detecting, containing, and removing aggressive canines from public areas, by a division bench comprising Justices AK Jayasankaran Nambiar and Gopinath P.

“In the report that is proposed to be filed before us on 16.09.2022, the State Government shall also mention the steps taken by it pursuant to our earlier orders while narrating the steps currently proposed to be taken to tackle the menace of dog bites.”

“The State Administration must remind itself of the fact that in its role as a welfare State and as parens patriae of the citizenry it is obliged to protect the citizens from the attack of ferocious dogs by identifying and containing such dogs and removing them from public places”, the order stated.

The Court ordered the government to give instructions to guarantee that the populace does not enact legislation on their own after taking note of the Bar’s arguments regarding the unpermitted slaughter of communal dogs.

“Taking note of the said submission and engaged as we are in a balancing of the rights and interests of our citizens vis-a-vis those of animals, we direct the State Government to cause suitable public instructions to be issued through the State Police Chief, clarifying that while the State Administration is taking necessary steps to contain the incidents of dog bites, the citizenry shall also refrain from taking law into their own hands by inflicting unnecessary harm on community dogs,” the order said.

The Court made the ruling during a special session that it called in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) regarding animal cruelty that it had started suo motu in July 2021 in response to news reports about the alleged cruel and inhumane killing of Bruno, a pet Labrador dog, by three minors on the Adimalathura beach in Thiruvananthapuram.

The case was later renamed by the Court to “In Re: Bruno (Suo Moto Public Interest Litigation Proceedings initiated by the High Court in the matter of executive and legislative inaction of the State Government in the matter of Protection of Animal Rights)”.

The Court has made a number of orders regarding the following matters throughout the previous year:

  1. Conducting awareness campaigns to change attitude of citizenry
  2. Clarifying rules regarding pets in residential complexes
  3. Reconstituting the State Animal Welfare Board
  4. Holding adoption camps, improving infrastructure of animal shelters
  5. Setting up clinics and augment infrastructure in already existing facilities that can conduct Animal Birth Control (ABC) procedures on community dogs

The Court noted in its order today that these directives were issued to monitor the ABC procedure’s implementation throughout the State with a view to control the proliferation of community dogs and to ensure that they were properly immunised against contagious diseases.

By September 16, when the matter will be discussed again, the State government is anticipated to submit a thorough report on the stray dog problem.

The number of stray dog bite incidents in Kerala has been on the rise, and many of these tragedies have resulted in the deaths of unlucky residents, including children.

Only two months ago, it was reported that a 12-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl had both been bitten by stray dogs. Later, the young girl died of her wounds.

In order to stop rabies infections, the Kerala government has announced that it has started widespread vaccination efforts for stray dogs throughout the state.

Meanwhile, claims of numerous stray dogs being intentionally poisoned were reported to have been discovered dead in various places.

The Supreme Court is also concerned about the stray dog problem; on Friday, the court made an oral recommendation that the Kerala government seek to establish a compromise to address the stray dog problem and balance it with animal rights.

“Most of us are dog lovers. I also feed dogs … Have to find a rational way out. I also walk dogs. Some are ferocious. Have to segregate those,” Justice Sanjiv Khanna had made a comment verbally.

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