Much to the joy of the animal rights community of India, the MoEFCC (Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change)’s recent release of four new rules under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act has caused an upheaval. The new rules regulate dog breeders, animal markets, case property animals confiscated under the law, and aquariums and pet shops that sell fish. The radical implications pertain not only to the slaughter of animals for food, but will also impact the leather and dairy industries. And though we aren’t fans of animal protection motivated solely by politics or religion, we are glad that for once, the open secret of the links between the dairy, beef, and leather industries has been placed in the limelight.
Involved in the public consultation process, FIAPO had earlier provided comments to strengthen these rules. So far, the Ministry has stood by its position to put in place cattle market rules to curb illegal trafficking and prevent the sale of cows and buffaloes for slaughter. The Madras High Court has granted a stay on these rules, but orders from the Kerala and Rajasthan High Courts are encouraging, with a judgment from Rajasthan recommending that the cow should be recognized as a legal entity (and also declared a national animal). We are celebrating the Rajasthan judgment recommending personhood for cows, and that with the new rules, buffaloes will for once receive the same level of protection as cows.
Yet as the battle over cow slaughter – and political and religious struggles in which cows are used as pawns – continue, we remain sorely disappointed with the blind eye turned towards a major contributing cause: the consumption of dairy and leather. Why are most Indians and the current governing party still ignoring the fact that the only way to truly save the Gauvansh [cows]is to stop using products derived from them? What is really going to happen to animals that no longer produce milk? If they are to be sent to the so-called “huge gaushalas” [cow shelters]that are yet to be built, who is going to take the responsibility of monitoring what really happens inside these facilities? Are we setting a time bomb that will very soon explode, paving the way for more Hingonia scandals? Are cows to be pulled out from the miserable slaughterhouses only to be dumped into the endless sufferings of gaushalas, shelters, and roads, where they will fill their bellies with plastic trash?
The slaughter issue has captured the nation’s imagination, yet it remains mostly focused on religion and politics. So, we are calling on every Indian animal rights activist to do what we all do best: focus on the animals.
Compared to the issue of cow slaughter, the rules regulating the pet breeding industry aren’t receiving any public attention, but that doesn’t reduce their significance. We have waited for years for a way to regulate the growing trade in dogs and other pets. At FIAPO we are concerned that while everyone pays attention to the market and slaughter rules, the dogs and other animals caught up in the breeding industry are being forgotten. This is a crucial time for us as a community to prepare, to be aware of all possibilities that lie ahead of us and strike when the iron is hot – before opposition to the breeding regulations gets stronger! If we don’t mobilize right now to end the suffering of thousands of puppies and dogs and fish (in addition to cows and bulls and buffaloes), the efforts of our community to bring the new rules into effect will become moot.
And so, the single most important thing to do now is to ensure that all the boards, committees, and other required infrastructure to implement and enforce the rules is put in place. Here’s a full list of the points covered under the new rules, along with all the other information and links you’ll need. Armed with these, contact your local authorities as soon as you can and get started! If you need assistance, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let us not fail our animal companions. Starting today, let us put up a united front to defend justice for animals.