Unlike crimes against people brought to the notice of officials for the bare minimum, most animal cruelty cases go unreported. Reports of animal abuse are mostly related to dogs, cats, horses and livestock. A report compiled by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) and All Creatures Great and Small (ACGS), 4,93,910 animals were abused by humans from 2010 to 2020.
Why is it news now?
A video showing a black labrador being beaten to death went viral on social media. As per the video, Bruno was beaten by three men on the Adimalathura beach on the outskirts of Thiruvanthapuram. The video received severe outrage on social networking websites, after which the Kerala High Court took suo-moto cognizance of the case. The division bench of the court, led by Justice Jayasankaran Nambiar and P. Gopinath, directed the registrar to rename the case, "In Re: Bruno (Suo moto proceedings initiated by the High Court in a matter of executive and legislative inaction of the state government in the matter of protection of animal rights.) The judges said this would be a befitting tribute to the helpless dog to succumb to human cruelty.
Violation of animal rights is nothing Indians do not already know. However, most of the citizens choose to ignore the issue conveniently. As a consequence, India has seen increasing cases of animal cruelty. In March 2021, CCTV footage shows a man molesting a dog in Mumbai. The financial capital of the country reported 8 cases of animal abuse every day. A monkey was hung and beaten to death in Telangana; a street dog was beaten, tied to a scooter and then thrown off the second floor of a building in Ludhiana, nursing students poisoned 16 puppies in Kolkata, the death of a pregnant elephant after consuming a fruit laced with a firecracker and the recent death of a tiger cub after a motorcycle ran over it.
What are the laws?
The Indian Constitution guarantees several laws for the protection of the four-legged voiceless creatures. Indian Penal Code (IPC), Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughterhouse) Rules 2001, Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act are to name a few. On March 25, 2021, The Indian Express reported that the Union Government had 'proposed' an amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 to raise the penalties of animal cruelty from a mere Rs 50 to Rs 75000, or "three times the cost of the animal" beside 5-year imprisonment. The National Crime Record Bureau prepares an annual report on the number of crimes in the country. Unfortunately, the Bureau is not responsible for maintaining a database on the crimes inflicted on animals.
Shocking cultural contrast
India is a country famous for animal worship as a part of its culture. Animals like cows, tigers, lions, mouse and monkeys are believed to have a cultural connotation that combines various religions in India. Despite this, the number of cases of animal abuse and the severity of abuse has been on a higher graph. One of the Supreme Court rulings were that animal abuse caused by "legitimate" reasons is not cruelty.
The pandemic affected the human race beyond measures. On the other hand, street animals bore the brunt of the times when humans were confined to their homes. The dogs on the street were left without any food or water from the passers-by. The lockdown also had a severe impact on the psychology of the dogs as they are not familiar with the concept of not seeing humans for such a long period. An NGO named Word For All said that the emergency calls for help to injured street animals have considerably gone up. Sadly, by the time they can send help, it is too late. This happened largely because there were negligible people on the streets to report such cases, and due to lack of traffic, the vehicles would generally be at higher speeds than usual. The tyranny of dogs living on the streets would thus go unnoticed.
There are several Non-Profit Organizations that are registered for the welfare of animals across the country. However, they are not easily accessible. Roushni Nair, an active advocate for animal rights, said, "I have seen a street dog suffer in front of my eyes. I called up several organizations that treat animals for free, but none of them had a vehicle facility to come and pick the dog up. I asked auto wallas, rickshaw- pullers, cab drivers and everyone I knew; nobody was ready to carry an infected dog in their vehicle due to hygiene issues. Two days later, the dog was no more."
An organization named Four PAWS International has suggested ways to combat the menace of animal welfare. According to World Animal Protection, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Chile, Denmark and Germany are the best countries catering to animal welfare. Stricter laws for the protection of animal rights and effective implementation of those laws by every level of the country's administration can safeguard the interests of the voiceless creatures. The amount of fine for animal cruelty should be increased on an urgent basis, and the crimes should be charged under non-bailable offences to embed in people's minds that they would be liable for all their actions.
Organizations like World For All, All Creatures Great and Small, PETA and other small animal rights groups should hold awareness campaigns in schools to sensitize the students about the growing need for compassion for animals. The children should be educated on the beauty of adopting a pet. This can have counter benefits for the owners because scientific research has proven that people who own pets are less vulnerable to anxiety, stress, depression, and the like.
Animal abuse occurs in all forms but should not happen at all. Animals have rights, and just because of their inability to stand up for themselves, it is inhuman to deprive them of it. Unattended animal abuse cases can eventually lead to more brutal crimes in the future. As a part of humankind, humans must perform the deeds of humanity to prevail.