Court casts canine cruelty cloud on NGOs

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  • Published 8.07.03

Calcutta High Court on Monday directed that notices be served on NGOs working for the protection of animals in the city, asking them to be parties to an ongoing case against the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) for the cruel treatment of strays.

A group of animal lovers had filed the case in the high court against the civic body and a number of NGOs working for the welfare of animals, alleging that the respondents were violating the rules of Prevention of Cruelty on Animals Act.

According to them, the dogs are hurt while being caught on the streets for immunisation and sterilisation, and that the animals are mistreated in the dog pounds as well.

The petitioners, Tapas Chakraborty and other residents of the Jadavpur area, said in their appeal that CMC officials capture street dogs using iron forceps and tongs, which are in violation of the norms framed in Prevention of Cruelty on Animals Act.

“These are very painful methods. The rulebook states that sacks and loop methods should be applied to catch dogs,” the petitioners argued.

They also alleged that the CMC had entrusted the management and running of the dog pounds to People For Animals, an NGO that was not competent enough for the job. They told the court that after catching the dogs, the CMC hands them over to the NGO, which dumps all the animals into a large pit.

“Most of these strays cannot bear the pain and die. Then, the authorities despatch the dead animals to Alipore zoo to feed lions and tigers,” the petitioners complained.

The division bench, comprising Chief Justice A.K. Mathur, then wanted to know from the petitioners the places where the dogs were kept for treatment after being captured. The counsel informed the court that strays were lodged in three places — Hatgachia in Tiljala, Bibirhat Road in Bishnupur, on the city’s southern fringes, and Haltu, in east Calcutta.

Appearing on behalf of the CMC, Aloke Ghosh dismissed the allegations brought against the civic body. “Street dogs are captured only after receiving specific complaints from citizens or councillors,’’ he said.

“Many of these strays become a terror to the people and the civic authorities take immediate action. The dogs are treated in the pounds,” he asserted. Ghosh also claimed that CMC officials, after treating the dogs or after sterilisation, send them back to their original homes.

Ghosh told the court that the civic body has a well-equipped dog-catching squad, comprising trained persons.