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INDIA: A NEW, STRONGER ANIMAL WELFARE ACT IS ON THE WAY
March 08, 2011, 3:0PM MT
By Sharon St. Joan, Best Friends Network
Fifty years after India passed one of the world's first animal protection
laws, a new proposed law -- the Animal Welfare Act, 2011-- lays out strong
penalties for those who mistreat animals. Your comments are needed.
The new Animal Welfare Act 2011, being proposed by India¹s Ministry of the
Environment and Forests, Mr. Jairam Ramesh, is poised to replace the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act - 1960.
It will impose stiffer penalties, and the new Act will be easier to enforce,
with more precise definitions of what constitutes animal abuse. This will
mean less room for guesswork on the part of law enforcement.
Working oxen and donkeys
Overloading a bullock (or ox) cart will now be punishable, as will using
force to get an animal to work.
In a country where much work is still done by working animals, especially
oxen and donkeys, stricter regulation of their working conditions has the
potential for greatly alleviating the animals¹ suffering. The Donkey
Sanctuary estimates that there are nearly two million working donkeys in
India. They carry vegetables to market and bricks for building.
The new Act specifies that working animals must be provided adequate rest,
food, and water. Neglecting animals or keeping them chained may lead to
The new law states that a person in charge of an animal is responsible for
seeing that the animal does not suffer, and notes the generally-accepted
five freedoms for an animal: freedom from thirst and hunger; freedom from
discomfort, including access to shelter and a place to rest; freedom from
pain, injury, and sickness, including prompt veterinary care; freedom to
express normal behavior for that species, including adequate space for
natural movement and the company of the animal¹s own kind; freedom from fear
and distress, meaning that good treatment is required.
The new Act will prohibit transport of animals in vehicles that cause
injury; pick-up trucks overloaded with goats or cows can often be seen on
Indian roads. It will also prohibit the hobbling of legs or tethering on a
short chain, or the habitual chaining of any animal. Declawing, defanging,
tail-docking and branding are also prohibited. Any form of animal fighting
is prohibited. Dynamiting or electrifying streams or lakes is forbidden.
Practices designed to improve milk production that are harmful to cows are
punishable by a large fine or from two to four years in prison. Breeding and
selling of animals will be regulated by the Animal Welfare Board of India,
the national Board which is charged with protecting all Indian animals.
Section V of the draft covers Animal Experimentation, and Section VI covers
Performing Animals. Both these sections include much stricter regulations
to alleviate the suffering of animals, and they define penalties for
The powers of the Animal Welfare Board of India will be expanded to include
state Boards, as well as the already-existing national Board.
In 1960, India was among the first countries in the world to pass a national
Act for the protection of animals. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act
- 1960, however, lacked strong and effective penalties. This lack is
remedied in the new Act being put forward, which will much more easily lend
itself to enforcement and will more readily ensure that animals in India are
protected from suffering and ill-treatment.
Your comments are needed
No matter what country you live in, please send a comment to
by March 20, 2011.
In your comment, please mention the country where you live and thank the
Minister of the Environment and Forests, Mr. Jairam Ramesh, for his support
of animal welfare and for introducing this important Act that will offer
stricter penalties for the protection of animals and that will go a long way
towards reducing the suffering of animals.
To read the proposed law, The Animal Welfare Act, 2011, click here.
Top photo: Intst / Dreamstime.com / Indian dogs playing on Palolem Beach,
Second photo: Davidgerry / Dreamstime.com / A cow in Jaipur
Third photo: Stephan Scherhag / Dreamstime.com / A monkey overlooking a
Fourth photo: Surz01 / Dreamstime.com / A green beeeater
Sharon St Joan
Best Friends Network
Best Friends Animal Society
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