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Stray dogs make it difficult to walk or sit out

Dogs, people, courts: Pune housing society in a bind

Civil Society News, New Delhi/Pune

Published: Nov. 29, 2023
Updated: Dec. 01, 2023

Imagine the scene. It is around 2 am. A van with 25-odd stray dogs turns up at the gates of the Brahma Suncity Housing Society in Pune. They are accompanied by a busload of policemen. At that early hour, the dogs are released in the apartment complex without any intimation to the residents. The dogs have no collars, no vaccination records.

This happens on May 13 some three months after a child, residents say, was brutally mauled by a pack of stray dogs in the society’s premises. That attack came on top of  cases of dog bite and  residents feeling unsafe.

The injuries to the child were recorded as category three bites, which means they were severe, and he needed treatment in hospital.  The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) responded by taking away around 50 dogs from the premises of the housing complex.

But on May 13 the dogs were back because under the Animal Birth Control (ABC) Rules dogs, even if they bite and attack people, cannot be removed from an area.

When the dogs were taken away, the residents breathed a sigh of relief. There had been long-standing complaints about the dogs roaming free in the common areas and being fed randomly. People felt they were at risk going for walks, getting out of their cars or even accessing the swimming pool.

But after the PMC action, an animal activist, who was not from among the residents, filed a case in the Bombay High Court seeking the return of the dogs to the society’s premises and implementation of the ABC Rules.

As a result of this case, the high court ruled that the PMC put back the dogs including the ones that attacked the child. Before the court order came, the Animal Welfare Board (AWB) had also set up an Animal Welfare Committee under the same ABC Rules for a “fair evaluation’’ of the events that had occurred for a “proper understanding of human-animal dynamics and challenges present on the ground’’ and to “analyze past interventions and plan suitable action” so that “human and animal safety is adequately in adherence with the law.”

The committee recorded a list of complaints. The residents said they lived in constant fear, pregnant women were especially worried about the possibility of being bitten, sterilization and vaccination records did not exist, the maintenance and housekeeping staff had their own concerns.

However, when the court issued its order putting back the dogs none of these concerns seem to have been taken into account. The brief of the committee was to ensure that the safety of both human beings and animals were addressed. But the court’s order only related to the rights of the dogs under the ABC Rules.

To stop implementation of the high court’s order, the residents went to the Supreme Court, which issued a stay. The residents informed the PMC Commissioner of the stay and requested him to wait for the Supreme Court’s decision. They also suggested that the interim period could be used for sterilizing and vaccinating the dogs and tagging them.

But instead, despite the Supreme Court’s stay, the PMC brought the dogs back surreptitiously in the early hours of May 13 and then brought in yet more stray dogs, again at the dead of night, the residents say.

The ABC Rules are meant to protect stray animals from being ill-treated. They were recently amended to include the term ‘community dog’. But what happens if the community at large does not want to keep stray dogs in its midst? Whose responsibility do they become?

The residents of the Brahma Suncity Housing Society say under Article 21 of the Constitution they have the right to personal safety, freedom of movement and a disease and pollution free environment. Having stray dogs around deprives them of these rights.

The residents have a video which they circulate in which they narrate how their lives have been upended. Children say they can’t play freely. A cancer patient often finds it challenging to step out, even to go for treatment. The elderly can’t go for their walks.

“We used to have six or seven stray dogs in this society a decade ago. Now we have 60 to 70. We have about 5,000 residents and just a handful of people feed dogs. And they feed the dogs irresponsibly,” says Nagendra Rampuria, who speaks for the majority of residents.

He says the dog-feeders are doughty and unreasonable. They are also propped up by animal activists outside the housing society. They cite the ABC Rules, which the courts uphold. But the rules are lopsidedly enforced without taking into account the safety of the residents and the fact that the majority don’t want dogs invading common areas.

Rampuria says he personally led an initiative to find common ground. One suggestion was that the dogs be kept in a large sequestered area where they could be fed and looked after. The possibility of adoption and transfer to animal shelters outside was explored. But such discussions finally failed.

“After the attack on the child in February this year, when the dogs were picked up by the PMC, they were kept in shelters outside where they were well looked after. Where was the need to bring them back?” he asks.

As the imbroglio continues, there have been more instances of attacks, the most recent being of a child going from the school bus stop to the park being bitten.

Says Rampuria, expressing the sentiments of fellow residents: “Currently stray dogs seem to have the right to live in their territories, right to remain where they are even if they maul or kill citizens or choose private property as their territory. Stray dog feeders, via the ABC Rules, also have the right to litter food anywhere and take no responsibility for the actions of the dogs they feed.”

It is because of the feeding that the dogs develop territories that they see as their own and attack anyone they consider an “intruder” including “human residents who actually own that territory,” says Rampuria.

The residents are particularly disappointed by a comment by the judge in the high court that “a stray dog bite is not the end of the world”. The residents say in response: “For those of who have suffered, it has very much been the end of the world. For people, especially children who have been savaged, or those who have to live next to the constant danger or fear of attack the trauma remains.” 

(This is a corrected version of the story)

Comments

  • Jyoti R

    Jyoti R - Dec. 13, 2023, 10:19 a.m.

    I can not understand, why people can't understand dog problems. Humans have captured all places, food and shelter. Dogs have nothing to survive, They are hungry and sick. All humans are corrupt and use all the money that is issued for animal welfare. Animals can not do anything. Humans either kill them or let them live happily The government is spending crores in the construction sector, free food/electricity/bus and lots more. Why can't they make living places for animals?

  • Richie

    Richie - Dec. 2, 2023, 5:47 p.m.

    It seems that in India dogs have more rights and privileges than humans. It has become more and more difficult for humans specially kids and elders to go out on their own. Everyone is too scared. People making decisions don't seem to be aware of the reality but go by theoretical assumptions. Things should change and it should become a safer place for humans too.

  • AK Premi

    AK Premi - Dec. 2, 2023, 3:15 p.m.

    Humans do not understand the language of animals, including dogs. If we were to ever understand what the stray dogs of Brahma Suncity discuss amongst themselves, this is what we are most liken to listen... "Hey, who ever asked some humans to sympathise for us? And, if they do, why do they insist that we should live the rest of our lives on the streets, waiting for them to come in the dead of the night with some stale food waste from restaurants? Why can't they take us to their air-conditioned apartments and let us have some salmon and caviar? Who ever told them that we will die if we are moved to shelter homes or their apartments, when we know that our German, Japanese, American, Canadian brothers and sisters live in the same apartments and have the privilege of taking their owners for a walk? The owners even get the privilege to scoop our poops. And, don't we anyway have thousands of our kind living in the homes of humans in several villages and towns in India? Another point, these same so called humans that love us, also agree that we should be neutered!! So, they want to save us now, but are okay to allow our entire race to be wiped out. Is there a way we can talk to the judiciary in India and ask them to stop these "lovers" from loving us? " By the way, the initials of my name AK stand for Awara Kukur

  • Chetan Deshmukh

    Chetan Deshmukh - Dec. 2, 2023, 1:23 p.m.

    Bramha Suncity residents and citizens alike in Pune and across cities are amused, confused, neglected of their basic rights to have secured life, an apathy where authorities showing more concerns for the stray dogs which turned wild lately, than human life, all in the name of senseless ABC rules. There is something else going on here, NGOs getting funding to feed animals, majority of which they munch on themselves, its like Mafia now. I will request concerned authorities and PMO to not test Citizens patience, we will save our loved ones, and would go to any level to seek justice from law and order authorities. There is a limit for everything !!

  • Amit Jha

    Amit Jha - Dec. 2, 2023, 8:57 a.m.

    Living in Bramha Suncity is now a dangerous situation. What happened to Right to Human Life? Strays are getting more importance than human lives. Strange but true. I have very old parents, with morbid conditions. They have been advised morning and evening walks by the doctor. Due to the scare these stray dogs create, both my parents can't go down to walk. As a result, my father has developed further complications. Who is to blame....The government which comes out with such draconian rules like ABC, the judiciary, which despite knowing facts, choose to decide in favour of these laws instead of trying to challenge them and set precedence or the feeders. I do not know, but all I know is that living in a society which has a stray incident on a regular basis is not the correct. We are dealing with human lives here. Very appalling.

  • Mike merchant

    Mike merchant - Dec. 2, 2023, 4:39 a.m.

    It’s horrible to stay in this bsc society Pune. 80+ dogs moving here and there it’s very scary. Many dog bite incidents happened in our society but fell on deaf ears. PMC is not interested to look into this matter. Humble request to senior authorities to look into it.

  • Mamta Mago

    Mamta Mago - Dec. 1, 2023, 10:43 p.m.

    Stray dogs have become a threat to human lives in our society. Children cannot go alone to parks, to bus stops, super market located within the society, always have to be accompanied and they pose an equal risk to adults. We can't go for walks after 9 pm due to fear of attacks by strays. Even while going to office, I have to take my auto rickshaw till my wing as they attack seeing the tiffin bag. There is a constant fear in our minds. Human lives need justice!

  • Sunita Asher

    Sunita Asher - Dec. 1, 2023, 10:06 p.m.

    The government is responsible for everything, Government should create shelters for dogs, dogs come under wild animal category.Territories are created by humans. When PMC kept them for sometime they were able to survive so territory and all are just excuses. Its only a good source of income for dog feeders it's not love. If they love them they should have given them shelter where dogs would be kept properly.

  • Deepti Pillai

    Deepti Pillai - Dec. 1, 2023, 10:05 p.m.

    Same situation in our apartment complex in Bangalore (ITPL). It was a peaceful society and then 2 females bought flats here. And from that day onwards we could see stray dogs inside. We first thought it was a random case, but soon the count of strays increased. And then open feeding started inside residential zone. The strays started getting aggressive, started chasing kids/adults who would carry grocery covers etc. And when residents objected, then came a series of FIRs/NCRs on us. We all saw the insides of a police station in our life, thanks to them. Such a beautiful society we had, and just 2 people spoiled it. We soon were on newspapers, and residents were called "animal haters". Those two were the only animal lovers around! So much for animal love, one had a fancy pet at home and one didnt have any. What animal love without adopting one stray dog and giving it a decent life? These people love to see human-animal conflict. They love to throw their food waste at these stray animals and love to get clicked, and then call themselves God for the animals! Shame...

  • Ekta

    Ekta - Dec. 1, 2023, 9:26 p.m.

    ABC rule is killing us, it must be amended keeping human safety in mind. No law should supersede human safety. CHANGE ABC rule

  • Amit Garg

    Amit Garg - Dec. 1, 2023, 8:55 p.m.

    The so called theory of Territory, is Illegal encroachment in other words because this peice of land is proposed for humans and some so called dog lovers have strategically adopted method of feeding in open space, so dogs have started thinking this is their territory.... If humans want charge of their own space which is occupied by dogs, what's wrong in this, and for what reason are these dignitaries claiming this land should be reserved for dogs ???? Why can't the so called dog lovers buy a piece of land and enjoy the food serving along with dogs or take them home for feeding and give them a shelter, why leave these dogs in the open suffering with heat/rain/winter????? Dog lovers and such law makers should not be thinking only for feeding space, they should ask these dog lovers to adopt as pets and take them home, that will be good for the poor dogs.

  • Sam1

    Sam1 - Dec. 1, 2023, 8:55 p.m.

    PMC, please help in clearing this messy situation

  • Vicky

    Vicky - Dec. 1, 2023, 8:52 p.m.

    The law needs to be unbiased. Citizens have the right to safety. Why only implement law for strays. Why not for bulls, cows, horses, sheep, goats, pigs, elephants etc. Residents of all caste, creed, age and gender are scared of stray attacks.

  • Kishor

    Kishor - Dec. 1, 2023, 8:47 p.m.

    Citizens have the right to safety. Ineffective and insensitive bureaucrats only bow down to superiors and those in power. A biased law is unconstitutional as it is against human safety and needs to be revised. Stray feeders should be held accountable for all stray bite and attack incidents.

  • Rizwan Rangara

    Rizwan Rangara - Dec. 1, 2023, 8:47 p.m.

    With these kind of business minded animal lovers around, we can do nothing but to wait for our kid to be unlucky one fine day get mauled by these aggressive and unowned canines.

  • Kishore B

    Kishore B - Dec. 1, 2023, 8:42 p.m.

    Its difficult to sleep at night especially for senior citizens. PM should look into the matter. NO TO COMUNITY AND GATED SOCIETY DOGS.

  • Darshan

    Darshan - Dec. 1, 2023, 8:41 p.m.

    Everyone in society of all ages and gender are scared and living in fear. Why is there no law to protect humans against stray bites, why is there no ownership of stray feeders towards human suffering from stray attacks. Why is there no law which stops feeding raw meat to strays? Strongly condemn biased law, pseudo stray lovers, ineffective and insensitive bureaucrat lobbies which survive on strays at the cost of human safety. Humans have the right to safety.

  • Suraj

    Suraj - Dec. 1, 2023, 8:25 p.m.

    Aggressive dogs are a menace.

  • Sunita.asher

    Sunita.asher - Dec. 1, 2023, 7:17 p.m.

    Human has no value,it's government duty to protect the citizens.

  • Rumi Ganguli

    Rumi Ganguli - Dec. 1, 2023, 6:39 p.m.

    How long we have to suffer and protect ourselves from these stray dogs in a society. Who has formed this theory territory of dogs ??If so then why these stray dogs are brought in the society from their territory where they were born ? Why there is no answer when there is so outburst and national outrage on killings of children elderly people by the stray dogs from our Supremo our Prime Minister??

  • Sukanya

    Sukanya - Dec. 1, 2023, 6:31 p.m.

    A close relative was recently attacked by a stray dog and reading this brought back his plight to mind. A viable solution that is in the interest of both helpless citizens and homeless animals must be found.

  • Ritu Mazumdar

    Ritu Mazumdar - Dec. 1, 2023, 6:29 p.m.

    Housing societies must be saved for humanity sake Leaving children and senior citizens to the mercy of strays within their own premises is the worst way to curb development of the country

  • Awadhi

    Awadhi - Dec. 1, 2023, 6:26 p.m.

    Sad part is, inspite of many such similar incidents increasing , no action is taken. Responsibles are ready to compromise with kids childhood & life rather.

  • Suncity resident

    Suncity resident - Dec. 1, 2023, 6:25 p.m.

    Encroachment on freely moving space, barking and following children from school bus stop to home, chasing bikers, chasing any resident wearing black, charging towards anyone with bags, charging at vulnerable walkers or passers by, barking through the night, howling and crying at midnights every night, attacking without provocation, biting young children, and the list keeps going on and on and all this is just and just by stray dogs. Dog Feeders leave food in the open areas where residents walk - causing dogs to attack, dog feeders with no authority sign off on random papers when dog vans come by to drop dogs, dog feeders block the work of PMC officials when they come over for vaccination or to pick dogs with poor health, dog feeders get into verbal and physical confrontation when residents walk with things for self protection against dogs (right to self defence is a part of our constitution), dog feeders use and involve women from their family to file cases of molestation against male /female residents when residents oppose to open space feeding/self protection/ etc. What more does a society resident have to go through?

  • Sanjay

    Sanjay - Dec. 1, 2023, 6:23 p.m.

    It’s horrible to stay in this society. 80+ dogs moving here and there it’s very scary to walk on roads. PMC is not interested to look in this matter. Humble request to senior authorities to look.