Animal Rights in the Covid Paradigm
The second year of the Covid-19 Pandemic has brought some respite in the form of vaccines. There are, however, still a lot of threats, both directly by Covid or by its subsequent economic ramifications, upon us. And when I say us, I sadly include our furry friends in it.
While the virus per se may not have proven to be harmful to animals like dogs, cat etc., they have nevertheless faced many hardships since the imposition of the first lockdown in March 2020.
When early fears about the virus began to seep through public, rumours followed almost immediately. From Whatsapp forwarded messages to major media houses, both print and electronic, claims “based on an advisory from the World Health Organisation” began circulating, which suggested people keep their distance from wild as well as domestic animals, as they have a higher likelihood of carrying the disease. The claim was later falsified, but the damage had been done.
Pet owners began abandoning dogs and cats en masse, with the figure reaching millions, and it was only after excessive awareness campaigns by animal rights groups did the trend see a decline. Organisations like AWBI, CARE and DAR began to rescue the abandoned animals and worked towards their readoption.
Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 lists 15 actions as cruelty, three of which are:
“h) Being an owner failing to provide the animal with sufficient food, drink or shelter.
i) Abandoning an animal without reasonable cause.
j) Willfully permitting an owned animal to roam on streets or leaving it on the streets to die of disease, old age or disability.”
When the lockdown was initially imposed in March 2020, animals outside as well as inside the house faced a new kind of problem. Inside the houses, especially in multi-storey flats, pets found themselves locked, often unable to properly relieve themselves. Outside the house, the sight was unbearable. The urban environment which had rendered these animals unable to procure food for themselves suddenly stopped supplying it to them. Many stray animals died of starvation, and the ones that survived looked miserably fragile. Once again, animal rights group came on the scene and worked hard till the first wave began to ease.
With India facing the second wave of Covid, and the added fear of Black fungus, many states have reimposed total or partial lockdown. In many places, only essential services are accessible. It does not seem to be clear whether pet food and veterinary doctors constitute an essential service, and are currently unavailable for a lot of animals. Further, in cities like Delhi, if you do find a clinic open, reaching them, and persuading the police of the gravity of the situation is an entirely different challenge. The central government did classify them as an essential service last year only, but the ground realis
The Constitutional duty of the state towards animal protection is supplemented by the Directive Principle of State Policy under Article 48A that, “The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.”
This past year and a half have posed several economic and moral question to us, and it is still far from over. One of the debates it has rekindled is the value of life. Everyone agrees that human life is valuable and merits being saved, but whether animal life is equal to that of humans or not, is a question open to us.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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