‘Our lives became hell’: Kerala pet house owners allege harassment and ostracisation by RWAs

On the night time of June 10 this yr, Roshan Joseph was strolling his pet Labrador named Oscar within the frequent space of his housing society in Kochi when a resident of the complicated got here near him on a cycle. “Oh, you have come out with your dog,” the person instructed him earlier than reportedly hitting Joseph within the face. And as Oscar got here working to him, the person kicked the animal too.

The incident shook Joseph who has been continually harassed by members of the condominium association ever since he introduced Oscar to his home. Though he was a joint secretary of the association at one time, they gave him two choices when he adopted the pet. “Either you can be a part of the association or you can keep a dog. I said I don’t want to be a part of the association. I stepped down and soon they started ignoring me,” stated Joseph. The association, he claimed, had created an unlawful by-law banning pets within the society premises.

“There was a child who used to come every day outside my door to see Oscar and play with him. They called up the parents of the child, asking them not to send their child to my home. They told him that they have decided not to talk to me anymore.”

In neighbouring Kottayam district, Vineetha and her husband Suresh needed to bear harsher penalties for proudly owning a canine. Since Suresh labored within the state’s technical training division, they stayed in authorities quarters. And positive sufficient, a couple of days after they bought a Pomeranian as a companion for his or her son, issues started cropping up. Their neighbours, alleged Vineetha, raised complaints even because the canine posed no hazard to them.

“They get scared just looking at the dog. They claimed they will get a (heart) attack. They made up complaints and submitted it to the superintendent. And the superintendent, without hearing both sides of the matter, asked us to get rid of the dog or vacate the quarters. We told him that we had raised the dog with a lot of love and we couldn’t give him away. He became stubborn and said if we don’t do as they say, they will create problems for us,” stated Vineetha.

“The amount of torture we faced cannot be described. They even set up an enquiry committee and a vigilance probe just to get rid of a poor dog that meant no harm to anybody. But we haven’t seen any reports of such inquiries. Ultimately, they gave my husband a punishment transfer. And the order said very clearly it was for keeping a pet and causing harm to neighbours,” she added.

Though she had gone to court docket and approached the Animal Welfare Board of India, she stated she obtained no beneficial verdicts from them. “They made our life hell for two years,” she stated.

The experiences of Joseph and Vineetha illustrate the relentless torture confronted by pet-owners throughout Kerala from authorities and personal housing societies and resident welfare associations (RWAs). Through unilateral common physique resolutions and unlawful bye-laws which don’t get challenged in court docket, such associations have managed to clamp down on retaining pets inside houses. And when pet house owners don’t comply, a lot of them are ostracised.

The rise within the variety of such incidents of late has compelled the Maneka Gandhi-founded People for Animals (PFA) to move the Kerala High Court earlier this week. In its petition, the PFA argued that the ban imposed by resident associations and housing societies on retaining pets was ‘illegal, arbitrary and unfair’.

It stated that the rules issued by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) in 2015 suggested house owners to make sure that their pets aren’t a nuisance to anybody. In the identical breath, it underlined that no quantity of strain from anybody/physique ought to result in the abandonment of pets as it’s a violation of legislation. The PFA sought a course from the court docket to all resident associations within the state to adjust to AWBI pointers.

Latha, secretary of the Thiruvananthapuram chapter of PFA which filed the petition in HC, stated they get at the very least one grievance day by day from pet-owners going through harassment from RWAs. “There has to be some kind of a complaint redressal mechanism. We want a system established so that no pet gets abandoned,” she stated.

“People should understand that if there is a pet owner in a building, the children there can play with the animal. It is good for children to have some kind of a bond with animals as it helps them become better people when they grow up.”

In one case, she identified, a girl was suggested to maintain a pet by her physician as she had some neurological points. “She got a pug. But the building association made a huge issue about it. They got the family staying in the flat below hers to complain that their children are getting an allergy because of the animal’s hair. But we know that pugs are short-haired animals. So it was a deliberate attempt at pushing the dog out,” she stated.

Bhanu Tilak, showing in court docket for the PFA, stated Kerala at present doesn’t have a state animal welfare board which is usually a competent authority to deal with issues regarding pets underneath the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. “Our laws with respect to animal rights are very weak and on the enforcement side, nothing is happening,” she stated.

The PFA’s writ petition has been admitted in HC, she confirmed, and the court docket has requested the AWBI and the state to file a counter-affidavit within the matter. The subsequent listening to is on August 2.

Earlier this month, after a canine named Bruno was brutally killed by three individuals in Thiruvananthapuram, the HC took steps to guard pet animals within the state. It requested the federal government to direct native our bodies to concern public notices requiring all pet house owners to register their animals with them inside six months. This would assist in tracing house owners who abandon their pets.

(Rivi Joseph, primarily based in Thiruvananthapuram, is an intern with Indianexpress.com.)

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