No country for dogs? Imaging: Tapasri Saha
It wouldn't take a genius to spot the #NotWithoutMyDog hashtag trending on social media since yesterday with pet owners sharing their ordeal along with adorable pictures of their pooches. The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had just done something that left pet owners in a tizzy, and it is about to leave hundreds, maybe more, of dogs homeless. Here's everything you need to about BBMP's proposal.
What is it?
As per a new rule to be implemented soon, the BBMP says that only one dog per apartment and a maximum of three dogs per independent house will be allowed. Apart from that, the dogs have to be neutered.
They even have a list of specific breeds you are allowed to keep by law. Every dog owner will be issued a licence, and this is separate from a breeding licence.
What does this mean?
People living in apartments who have more than one dogs have to give away the 'extra' as soon as the rule is implemented. "An old lady I know, she has two dogs, was asked to start making arrangements to let go of one of her pets," said Sreetama Ghosh Nandi, a proud pet parent of four adorable furry friends, in Bangalore.
Why are they doing this?
Well, the BBMP intends to stop backyard breeding of dogs. When dogs aren't bred the right way they tend to inherit certain illnesses which may or may not be curable. A lot of times sick dogs are abandoned on the streets due to lack of enough animal shelters.
So, where do the 'extras' go?
Since it's already been established that Bengaluru doesn't have enough animal shelters, the question everyone unanimously asked was what will happen to the dogs they give up, although no one particularly liked the term 'extra'. Turns out the BBMP plans to auction them.
What does this REALLY mean?
"The auction is obviously a money-making scheme," said Kannan Mehta, another dog parent from Bangalore. "Certified breeders will pick them up and who knows if there will be any backyard breeding there because it's not that there's a limit to how many times a dog is allowed to breed," he said.
Who made the cut and who got cut out? Image: Kannan Mehta
What are the loopholes?
There are plenty. "Dog owner licence and breeding licence is a good idea but what's the basis of the one dog per apartment rule? I could be living in a 2000sqft apartment but I can keep only one, while someone who lives in a 500 sq ft independent house is allowed to keep three. Certainly, space is not what they are judging on," adds Kannan.
The list of breeds you are allowed to keep was also a matter of concern for most. "A retriever, which is perhaps the most common breed across India was not on the list, and neither was a desi (an Indian breed of dog, usually a rescue). And the list somehow felt like a rip off of something you'd find in a European country because some of the breeds wouldn't even be comfortable in an Indian climate," adds Sreetama.
The retraction statement issued yesterday Image: Sreetama Ghosh Nandi
After the severe backlash, the BBMC released a statement to a daily stating that they will not go ahead with the proposal in its present form, but will take time to revise it. But unfortunately, some damage had already been done — dog shelters were hounded with calls from panicked dog owners who wanted to give up their dogs, and housing societies simply started using this to their advantage to force tenants to either give up dogs altogether or simply leave the building.
Why is it scary?
Clearly, Bangalore was the guinea pig in the experiment, and we wouldn't be surprised if the wave suddenly hit Mumbai, Delhi or any other part of the country. Of course, we have way larger problems to deal with in the country right now, and this may seem like a pretty small one in comparison, but it does need some amount of attention. When they said "It's a dog's life," they clearly didn't mean Bangalore.