Understanding the Significance of Legal Protection for Stray Animals in India


In India, the primary legislation governing the treatment of stray animals is The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (PCA Act). This Act defines cruelty to animals and prohibits various acts that inflict pain or suffering on animals, including:

  • Beating, kicking, goading, overloading, or otherwise ill-treating any animal.
  • Keeping any animal in confinement which is insufficient in size or ventilation.
  • Transporting any animal in a cruel or improper manner.
  • Abandoning any animal in circumstances which render it likely to suffer pain by reason of starvation or thirst.
  • Wilfully inflicting pain or suffering on any animal by any other means.

The PCA Act also establishes the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), a statutory body responsible for promoting animal welfare and overseeing the implementation of the Act.

Specific provisions within the PCA Act relevant to stray animals include:

  • Section 11(i): This section prohibits abandoning any animal in circumstances likely to cause suffering due to starvation or thirst. This directly applies to stray animals and makes it a punishable offense to abandon them without proper care.
  • Section 20: This section empowers the police and animal welfare officers to take possession of any animal found to be suffering pain or distress and provide necessary treatment. This provision is crucial for rescuing and providing aid to stray animals in need.
  • Section 21: This section authorizes the authorities to impound and dispose of any stray animal found to be suffering from an incurable and infectious disease. This provision aims to prevent the spread of diseases and protect public health.

Apart from the PCA Act, other relevant legal provisions include:

  • The Indian Penal Code: Sections 428 and 429 of the IPC penalize acts of cruelty to animals, including killing, poisoning, maiming, or rendering them useless.
  • The Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001: These rules mandate the sterilization of stray dogs to control their population and prevent rabies.

Additionally, various state governments in India have enacted their own laws and regulations concerning stray animals. These laws often address specific issues like dog bites, animal shelters, and vaccination programs.

It's important to note that while these legal provisions exist, the enforcement of animal welfare laws in India remains a challenge. Factors like inadequate resources, lack of awareness, and societal attitudes contribute to the continued suffering of stray animals. Nevertheless, the legal framework provides a foundation for protecting stray animals and promoting animal welfare in India.

Here are some additional resources you may find helpful:

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