After receiving a letter from PETA India stating that there’s rampant use of spiked or thorn bits (devices with metal spikes sticking out of them) to control horses throughout Maharashtra – despite an explicit legal ban on their use under Rule 8 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Draught and Pack Animals Rules, 1965 – the commissioner of the state’s Department of Animal Husbandry, Sachindra Pratap Singh, issued an order to all the district collectors and heads of each district’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals calling on them to ensure that spiked bits aren’t used on horses made to work and that there is no violation of the rules. A copy of the order was also sent to all regional joint commissioners, district deputy commissioners, and district officers of the Animal Husbandry Department.
The commissioner’s order also requested that the principal secretary of the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries take up the matter regarding the ban on the production and sale of spiked bits with the chief secretary.
In our letter, we pointed out that the population of horses and ponies in Maharashtra is around 0.37 lakhs, as recorded in the 20th Livestock Census 2019 conducted by the Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying.
When used to control horses for weddings, rides, or other activities, spiked bits sink more than a centimetre into the animals’ mouths, often ripping their lips and tongues and causing extreme pain, bloody wounds, mental trauma, and lifelong damage.
Based on the results of a multi-state survey of government efforts to enforce India’s ban on using spiked bits on horses, PETA India launched a nationwide campaign in the first week of December 2019 aimed at helping police enforce the ban. Following our outreach, several other states – including Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh – issued orders mandating the enforcement of this prohibition. PETA India is campaigning not only for police to search for and confiscate the illegal devices but also for laws to be introduced to include a ban on the manufacture and sale of spiked bits – a loophole that needs to be closed.