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Illegal pet shops and dog breeding industry worth over Rs 1000 cr thrives on human greed, graft to government

Renowned animal welfare activist Gauri Maulekhi, trustee of People for Animals, India’s largest animal welfare organization, lamented that key legislation which came into effect after she moved to court, the rules for the prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Pet Shops), 2018, whose provisions seek to ensure that dogs and other animal species are treated humanely by pet shops, have been tracked more in offense than not.

Aimed at making the pet store trade responsible, these rules require that these stores keep a record of the different animal species sold, their purchase and sale; details of veterinary checks; and other criteria to ensure decent living conditions for captive animals.

Additionally, most dog puppies for sale are bred in breach of the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Breeding and Marketing of Dogs) Rules, 2017, which prohibit practices such as unsanitary environments and inbreeding in “puppy mills”, and are more often than not, offered for sale without being weaned.

“These rules require dog breeders to obtain licenses from animal welfare boards run by state governments and ensure basic requirements are provided at their facilities to ensure the welfare of dogs. Unfortunately, even five years after the enactment of the law after we moved to court, nothing has changed on the ground. Even a state like Delhi has not even identified yet which authority should perform the function of the Animal Welfare Board as defined in the rules,” says Maulekhi.

“The conditions are so bad and the environment so dirty in these breeding facilities that I sometimes fear zoonoses giving rise to deadly diseases, as obviously happened during the genesis of the coronavirus in China,” a- she added.

“The problem is that government agencies like the Department of Development in Delhi, under which the Delhi Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) operates, are totally ineffective in carrying out their mandate, because corruption is endemic. Everyone, top to bottom, seems to be on the right track. Gopal Rai, the minister in charge of the department, remains on his own trip and there are huge corruption allegations against him. I find it ironic when AAP and its founder Arvind Kejriwal say things like they are going to eradicate corruption in Punjab citing the example of Delhi. Their government in Delhi is totally steeped in corruption,” she claimed.

“I met Vijay Kumar Dev, who recently resigned as Chief Secretary of Delhi, countless times to seek his intervention. Each time he said he would find out, but nothing ever happened. No action was taken even when animal welfare activists submitted a detailed forty-page report to his office in December 2021, documenting evidence of how some 30 prominent Delhi pet shops engage in brazen violations of the laws in plain sight,” she said.

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