Sunday, October, 17,2021

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The Animal Welfare Board of India

It is not uncommon for people to call animal shelters and municipal corporations and ask them to “remove” their community dogs who they like to often refer to as “galli ka kutta” citing reasons like their personal property (cars) being scratched, dog bites, and barking. Ironically many of these complainants themselves have pets! 

And imagine their disappointment when they hear the unexpected that there is a rule against relocation of dogs! Even the Municipal Corporations cannot and will not want to defy the Supreme Court, unless of course, the dog may be rabid. 

So all these rules and guidelines do not happen in a vacuum. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 (PCA) has a provision for the establishment and overseeing of a board dedicated to the welfare of animals.

The Animal Welfare Board of India was established under section 4 of the PCA Act and has a provision under section 5A of the same act to be reconstituted from time to time. 

The Board was established for the promotion of animal welfare generally and to protect animals from being subjected to unnecessary pain or suffering, in particular, there shall be established by the Central Government, as soon as may be after the commencement of this Act, a Board to be called the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI). 

The functions of the Board are-

1 To keep the law in force in India for the prevention of cruelty to animals under constant study and advise the Government on the amendments to be undertaken in any such law from time to time.

2  To advise the Central Government on the making of rules under this Act to prevent unnecessary pain or suffering to animals generally, and more particularly when they are being transported from one place to another or when they are used as performing animals or when they are kept in captivity or confinement.

3 To advise the Government or any local authority or another person on improvements in the design of vehicles to lessen the burden on draught animals. 

4 To take all such steps as the Board may think fit for improvement of conditions for animals by encouraging, or providing for, the construction of sheds, water-troughs and the like and by providing for veterinary assistance to animals. 

5 To advise the Government or any local authority or another person in the design of slaughter-houses or the maintenance of slaughter-houses or connection with the slaughter of animals so that unnecessary pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is eliminated in the pre-slaughter stages as far as possible, and animals are killed, wherever necessary, in as humane a manner as possible. 

6 To take all such steps as the Board may think fit to ensure that unwanted animals are put to sleep by local authorities, whenever it is necessary to do so, either instantaneously or after being rendered insensible to pain or suffering.

7 To encourage, by the grant of financial assistance or otherwise for the formation or establishment of pinjrapoles, rescue homes, animal shelters, sanctuaries, and the like where animals and birds may find a shelter when they have become old and useless to their owners or when they need protection.

8 To co-operate with, and co-ordinate the work of, associations or bodies established to prevent unnecessary pain or suffering to animals or for the protection of animals and birds. 

9 To give financial and other assistance to animal welfare organizations functioning in any local area or to encourage the formation of animal welfare organizations in any local area which shall work under the general supervision and guidance of the Board. 

10 To advise the Government on matters relating to the medical care and attention which may be provided in animal, hospitals and to give financial and other assistance to animal hospitals whenever the Board thinks it necessary to do so.

11 To impart education about the humane treatment of animals and to encourage the formation of public opinion against the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering to animals and for the promotion of animal welfare using lectures, books, posters, cinematographic exhibitions, and the like.

12 To advise the Government on any matter connected with animal welfare or the prevention of infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals.

One of the most important functions of the Board is to provide financial assistance to the recognized Animal Welfare Organisations (AWOs). The applications in the prescribed format received from the AWOs are scrutinized and eligible applications are placed before the Board for sanction of grant. Financial Assistance is released in two instalments after obtaining an audited statement of accounts and utilization certificate for the earlier grants and satisfactory Inspection reports.

The Board provides financial assistance to AWOs under various schemes viz. Regular Grant, Cattle Rescue Grant, Provision of Shelter House for looking after the Animals, Animal Birth Control (ABC) Programme, Provision of Ambulance for the animals in distress, and Natural Calamity grant.

The AWBI is supported by funds in the form of grants from the Government, contributions, donations, subscriptions, bequests, gifts and the like made to it by any local authority or by any other person. Animal Welfare Organisations can apply for grants to the AWBI for their projects. 
Apart from AWOs, breeders and pet shops must be registered with the AWBI. 

The general public and animal lovers can also apply to serve as Honorary Animal Welfare Officers to help animals in their states and districts. 

From ensuring that animal welfare laws in the country are diligently followed, to provide grants to Animal Welfare Organisations and advising the Government of India on animal welfare issues, the Board has been the face of the animal welfare movement in the country for the last 50 years.

Getting back to the subject of relocation. Truth is that no one can relocate dogs. And why would you want to relocate them in the first place? 

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