After PETA India urged the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), a government body, to stop e-commerce portals such as OLX and Quikr from trading in live animals, the agency notified the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MoEIT) that these companies are doing just that without being registered with state animal welfare boards as “pet shops”, even though such registration is required under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Pet Shop) Rules, 2018. The AWBI advised the ministry that e-commerce platforms operating without registration must be stopped from trading in animals.
Earlier, the AWBI had advised states and union territories to ensure that unregistered pet shops and dog breeders aren’t allowed to reopen after the lockdown. In the latest circular to the MoEIT, the board acknowledges that despite its advisory, unregistered dog breeders and pet shops continue to participate in the illegal trade. Recent Right to Information responses from states and union territories across India also confirm that most pet shops – including online platforms – and dog breeders operating in the country aren’t registered with state boards, as required by both the Pet Shop Rules and the Dog Breeding and Marketing Rules, 2017.
Meanwhile, on 21 May, Goa’s Directorate of Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Services issued a letter to its director of the Department of Information and Publicity stating that pet shops and dog breeders must be registered under the relevant rules before publishing any advertisement for any “pet” animals for trade in newspapers, electronic media, or social media.
PETA India complained to the AWBI that unregistered pet shops and dog breeders can easily circumvent animal protection regulations by trading in animals online – and that mistreatment and neglect of animals are frequently rife in these unregulated operations. Typical forms of cruelty include illegal ear and tail mutilations performed by breeders, the sale of animals following such cruel cosmetic procedures by pet shops and breeders, the breeding of dogs and cats in such a way that they develop severe health problems, the confinement of animals in deplorable conditions, and the sale of newborn and sick animals.
Every time someone buys a dog or a cat from a breeder or a pet store – or online – a homeless animal roaming the streets or waiting in an animal shelter loses a chance at finding a home. Unwanted animals are often abandoned on the streets, where they struggle to survive. Many of them go hungry, are deliberately injured or killed, or are hit by vehicles.
The AWBI has called for a crackdown on the illegal sale of vulnerable live animals. Animals suffer when they’re traded online as if they were handbags or teacups rather than living, feeling beings, and PETA India is urging people to adopt only from reputable animal shelters that do thorough checks for good homes.
Animals are not ours to experiment on, eat, wear, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way! Let’s recognise them as thinking, living, breathing beings who are not here to be used and abused by humans.