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Feeding street dogs has made them too territorial: Delhi HC

Mar 05, 2024 07:02 AM IST

The court was hearing a plea filed by Rahul Kanojiya, the father of a 1.5-year-old girl who was allegedly mauled to death by street dogs at Tughlak Lane on February 24

Feeding community dogs has led to them becoming too territorial and takes away their capacity to forage for their own food, the Delhi high court said on Monday, seeking replies from the Delhi government, New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), and the Delhi Police.

The next hearing will be held on March 13. (HT Archive)
The next hearing will be held on March 13. (HT Archive)

The court made the remarks while hearing a plea filed by Rahul Kanojiya, the father of a 1.5-year-old girl who was allegedly mauled to death by a pack of street dogs at Tughlak Lane on February 24.

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“The problem that is happening is in these areas people are coming in the van in the evening and feeding the dogs... Due to this, dogs have become too territorial and that is why they attack anybody. They are becoming a menace for the pedestrians and therefore feeding stray dogs is something people need to look at... Feeding a stray might be good but you are taking away their capacity to go and find its food… They (dogs) have nothing else to do and they have just become territorial,” a bench of justice Subramonium Prasad remarked.

Posting the plea for March 13, the high court also directed the police to preserve CCTV footage of the relevant period in and around the locality, and further asked the Delhi government to file a status report indicating the steps taken to prevent such incidents in future.

The court’s remarks come at a time when the Supreme Court is yet to decide on whether the Animal Birth Control (ABC) Rules, 2023, which aim to control the street dog population without cruelty, are in direct conflict with local laws of panchayats.

To be sure, strict laws govern what action authorities can take to control street dogs. These dogs can’t be exterminated or simply shipped out; there are legal restrictions against both. But some turn violent — often because some residents abuse them, or because they are illegally picked up from their territory and dumped in unfamiliar surroundings — and can bite passersby and young children.

Animal activists, however, said that dogs were territorial in nature whether they are fed or not.

“Feeding them only makes them friendlier and easy to catch for veterinary procedures. Keeping dogs feral will only exacerbate conflict. The remarks of the bench are not based on hard science and are more reflective of their personal opinions. Notably, such observations may also be contrary to the statutory scheme, constitutional principles and cultural values of India,” she Gauri Maulekhi, an activist.

The incident in question took place on February 24, when the toddler, who was sitting outside her home in the Dhobi ghat area of Tughlaq Lane, was allegedly attacked by four to five dogs.

Subsequently, Delhi mayor Shelly Oberoi met the toddler’s family last week and said that the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) will discuss controlling the Capital’s street animal population with NDMC. “We have directed MCD officials to hold talks with their NDMC counterparts and the NDMC chairperson and rid Delhi of the problem of stray animals. We will focus on the safety of children as well as the interests of animal lovers,” she had said.

In his plea, Kanojia demanded the implementation of laws and rules issued by the Centre to avoid any further tragic incident. He said the Delhi government should be directed to capture and treat violent and ferocious dogs as per ACB Rules, adding that the civic agencies have failed to create a dog shelter and alleging an increase in dog bite cases.

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