Central government notifies draft of new law for more humane practices in animal husbandry

Published : January 16, 2021 18:57 IST

Activists at an awareness generation programme against animal abuse, demanding a stronger and stricter Prevention of Cruelty to Animals laws. (file photo from 2016) Photo: K.V.S. Giri

Branding without anaesthesia, throwing animals roughly to the ground and binding them with ropes prior to treatment, castration without anaesthesia, and hot iron branding – such widespread practices used in animal husbandry would soon be a thing of the past.

Last week, the Central government notified the draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Animal Husbandry Practices and Procedures) Rules, 2020. It mandates using anaesthetics prior to castration, replacing archaic and painful practices such as hot branding with radio frequency identification, and breeding hornless cattle instead of dehorning or disbudding. It also includes applying behavioural principles of animal handling and restraining such as the use of face halters, blindfolds, treats (like molasses, groundnut cake, or green grass), and verbal and physical cues like calmly talking to and gently stroking animals instead of throwing them roughly to the ground and tying their legs with ropes. The Rules also require that euthanasia be carried out only under the supervision of a registered veterinary practitioner, as per the procedure set forth by the World Organisation for Animal Health and the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals.

The government’s decision follows advisories issued by the Animal Welfare Board of India and the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, appeals made by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, and a Public Interest Litigation filed by the group in the High Court of Delhi.

Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, defines the acts of cruelty to animals. However, Sub-Section 3 offers an exception and consequentially deems certain animal husbandry procedures, including the dehorning of cattle and the castration, branding, and nose roping of any animal “not to be cruel” - provided that they’re done in a “prescribed manner”.

In a press release, PETA India said, “The Rules prescribe euthanasia – “a good death” – for situations in which it’s cruel to keep an animal alive, as mandated by the PCA Act, 1960, or in which a massive number of animals are to be killed for the purpose of disease control, as mandated by The Prevention and Control of Infectious and Contagious Diseases in Animals Act, 2009, and they call for animals to be unconscious without enduring pain or suffering prior to the cessation of vital signs. Current crude methods include injecting chemicals that painfully stop the functioning of the heart and lungs while the animals are still conscious, suffocating them to death in plastic bags, and burying or burning them alive, as was reportedly done in a few States during the recent avian flu outbreak.”

Should the draft become law, it will bring some degree of a much-needed clean up in animal husbandry practices.

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