As many as 13 pet shops in the south and east Bengaluru were found to have neglected the animals after the Municipal Authorities inspected on April 1 and 2.
"None of them had a license issued by the animal welfare board as per the rules. The BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike officials were clueless about the fact that such animal cruelty was happening right under their noses," The News Minute quoted the Karnataka State Animal Welfare Board's member Shivanand as saying.
According to Shivanand, his team saw dead rabbits and birds in two of the shops they inspected, while in a few others they found animals that were starved for days and animals cooped up in 10 ft X 10 ft shops without any ventilation. These animals were in pure misery, with no strength to bark or cry out for help.
Reportedly, hundreds of animals -- mainly dogs, cats, rabbits and birds were rescued and sent to shelters run by NGOs in the city.
"The shop owners had not fed the animals for the last three days. They said that the police were not allowing them to open due to the lockdown. It's not only the lockdown that has affected the animals but the fact that they were housed in small cages with no ventilation in the rooms they were housed in," he was quoted as saying.
Shivanand stated that the shops located in popular locations of the tech city such as Shivajinagar, Jayanagar, Infantry Road, Kammanahalli and Banaswadi were small and had only one entrance and no windows for ventilation. Since the shutters were rolled down, there was no proper air or light.
"Without ventilation, food and water, the animals were suffering inside," he added.
The Karnataka Animal Husbandry Department has been urged by the animal welfare board to allow pet shops, which are not flouting norms, to be open for a few hours every day so the animals could be fed properly.
"Only those pet shops with proper ventilation and space for the animals will be allowed to open. We will shut down others flouting norms. We are coordinating with the police as well to bust the racket where these animals are being sold illegally," he stated.
According to a senior member of the State Animal Welfare Board (SAWB), the BBMP had issued licenses to these pet shops under the Shops and Establishments Act but had failed to follow up and monitor these shops to see if they were flouting guidelines of the Animal Welfare Board of India.
"How can these shops run without a pet shop license that is mandatory? None of the BBMP officials knew how many pet shops there are in their specific zones," the official was quoted as saying.
"Some of these pet shops have been illegally transporting animals through private buses that cross state borders. The SAWB and BBMP are going to rope in the police to bust the illegal import and export of animals. Some birds were being sold for ₹60,000. They were operating without a license as well," BBMP Director of Animal Husbandry Department Dr Shashi was quoted as saying.
A member of Citizens for Animal Birth Control, Rakesh Prabal Kumar, opined that Pet shop inspection is the primary responsibility of the SAWB be it issuing of licences or inspection.
He added although the SAWB has been defunct for a long time it is now gradually starting to reprise.
Following the initial inspection, BBMP has committed to keeping up with a series of inspections in close coordination with the active SAWB members.
Kerala High Court Sets Precedent
A cat owner's plea to go out in his car and buy food for his pets during the ongoing nationwide lockdown to curb novel coronavirus was allowed by the Kerala High Court on April 6.
According to The Indian Express article, the plea which was filed by Prakash, who has three pet cats, was mulled upon by a Division Bench of the High Court comprising Justices A K Jayasankaran Nambiar and Shaji P Chaly. According to the animal food and fodder were covered under essential items.
The court allowed the plea and further directed that the petitioner could go out to buy the food for his pets based on a self-declaration, along with the order of the court.