The Centre has notified rules to regulate pet shops under which such establishments will have to get a certificate of registration from the State Animal Welfare Board.
Lauding the new rules which set standards for animal housing and care in shops engaged in sale or purchase of pets animals in India, animal rights body said if thoroughly implemented, they will spare tens of thousands of animals from abuse in the industry.
Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Pet Shop) Rules, 2018 notified by the Environment Ministry, every pet shop registered under it will have to submit a report to the state board annually with information regarding the total number of “animals sold, traded, bartered, brokered, given away, boarded, exhibited, died or euthanised,” during the previous year.
“No person shall carry on or continue the business of sale or trade in pet animals, whether retail or wholesale; or establish or operate a pet shop, or any other establishment engaged in sale, purchase or exchange of pet animals by whatever name called, without obtaining a certificate of registration,” the new Rules said.
The Ministry had floated the draft Rules in December 2016 and invited objections and suggestions from various stakeholders. The Rules were notified after considering these suggestions.
The then Environment Minister Anil Dave had in 2016 said the rules will be notified factoring in the need to rein in pet business which is mushrooming with “little or no accountability”.
A series of representations were also made by various bodies including Humane Society International/India and People for Animals, (PFA) apprising the ministry of the cruelty in pet shop industry.
Animals transported and traded to meet the demand of the pet shop industry are kept in “inhumane conditions”, animal rights activists alleged. They said these animals are typically denied complete veterinary care.
While puppies are separated from their mothers soon after birth, birds, rats, mice, hamsters and guinea pigs are stuffed in small cages without access to adequate water or food, they said.
Other common harmful practices include mutilation in the form of de-beaking, tail-docking, feather plucking, nail clipping and de-clawing, they alleged.
An estimated 40 per cent of animals die in captivity or during transportation, they claimed. They also alleged that pet shops often grossly violate the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 by blatantly selling wild animals.
Under the new Rules, every pet shop owner will have to ensure that animals are displayed or housed for sale in accommodation and environment suitable to their species with respect to situation, size, temperature, lighting, ventilation and cleanliness, and other similar standards.
The Rules also specify that pet shop shall be located within a permanent structure or building, with adequate arrangement for basic amenities such as water and electricity, and adequate power back up.
It also prohibits any person from operating a pet shop in a shanty, shack, on pavement or any temporary or make shift arrangement.