Understanding the Complexities of India’s Community Dog Laws

Posted On - 26 April, 2023 • By - King Stubb & Kasiva

India is home to an estimated thirty million street dogs, posing a long-standing challenge for authorities to manage their presence.[1] It is disheartening to see stray dogs freely roaming and sleeping in shopping centers, streets, colonies, and tourist places. To address this issue, several Dog Laws have been enacted at both national and state levels in India over the years. The primary goal of these laws is to minimize the suffering of street dogs, prevent harm to the public, and maintain a balance between the interests of animals and humans. It is worth noting that dog control programs are more commonly implemented in developed countries compared to underdeveloped ones.

Laws in India for stray dogs

The Constitution of India, 1950

Article 51A(g) of the Indian Constitution states that it is the fundamental duty of every Indian citizen to protect the natural environment which includes lakes, rivers, forests, and wildlife. It was contended in the case of Animal Welfare Board of India v. A Nagaraja & Ors, that compassion for all living creatures includes the concern for their well-being and suffering, and under the doctrine of parenspatriae, it is a legal obligation and moral duty to safeguard the rights of animals.[2] The Supreme Court held in the case of State of Gujarat v. Mirzapur Moti Kureshi Kassab Jamat & Ors, that all provisions of Article 51A should go together with Article 48 and Article 48A having the same intention i.e. to protect the living creatures.[3]

The most important fundamental rights of the individual are now being curtailed by stray dogs across the country. The recent judgment of the Bombay High Court[4] stated there is no rule which forbids feeding street animals, and Indian citizens who choose to do so are bringing out a constitutionally mandated obligation. The court stated that no one could define a dog’s territorial borders, as they are not aware of the limitations of an area.

The Court ordered the Municipal Corporation of Navi Mumbai to identify and demarcate the feeding stations for stray dogs in public areas. It was also contended that Street dogs also have a right to live, and a sterilization program should be performed for every street dog. If any dog has violent behavior, they should move to shelter homes and if people will provide food and care then stray dogs will not get aggressive.

Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960

This Act is regarded as the most important among the dog laws in India. It is an Indian legislation that aims to prevent cruelty to animals and to amend the laws related to the prevention of cruelty to the animal. Section 11 defines what acts be considered cruel, (beats, kicks, runs over, drives over, loads over, tortures, or treats any animal by giving unnecessary pain and suffering to them).

The Act is enforced by the Animal Welfare Board of India and the Central Zoo Authority. It outlines the responsibilities of animal owners and caretakers and empowers animal welfare organizations to report cases of animal cruelty to the authorities. It also provides for the establishment of animal welfare committees to ensure the proper implementation of the act. There are the key features of the Act are:-

  • Definition-Section 2(a) of the Act established the definition of animals which includes any living creature other than human beings and different forms of animals.
  • Offenses & Punishment– To protect the animals from lifetime suffering and pain the Act has made punishments for offenders who cause unnecessary suffering and cruelty towards the animals. It discusses various forms of cruelty which inflicts on animals, their exceptions, and the process of killing a suffering animal (given under Section 13) when the cruelty has been imposed, and to avoid any other suffering for that animal.
  • Guidelines for experimenting on animals– Section 14 of the Act defines the experiment on animals and Section 15 explains the committee for controlling and supervising while experimenting on an animal.
  • Restriction on exhibiting performing animals– Section 22 explains the restriction on the exhibition of performing animals.
  • Animal Welfare Board of India– The Act explains the establishment of the Animal Welfare Board of India and Section 4 to 10 explains the provision related to the functioning of the board. Section 9 of the Act defines the responsibilities of the board.
  • Exemptions– Section 27 defines exemption to the act
  • Training of animals for bonafide military or police purposes or exhibition of animals trained for such purposes.
  • If any animals have been kept in any zoological garden or any association for educational or scientific exhibition, then they are also exempt under the Act.
  • Treatment of animals-The Government directsthe appointment of infirmaries for the treatment and care of animals under Section 35 of the Act.

The Union Government (Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying) in 2022 has proposed to introduce 61 amendments to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act 1960. The key provisions of the draft: –

  • Imprisonment– The draft proposes a maximum of 5 years imprisonment, along with a fine for killing an animal.
  • Gruesome cruelty-: Gruesome Cruelty’ is defined as an act that leads to extreme pain or suffering which causes lifelong disability or death to the animals. It shall be punishable with a fine of Rs 50,000 which may extend upto Rs 75,000 or with imprisonment of one year. It also includes ‘bestiality’ as a crime under the new heading of ‘gruesome cruelty’
  • Freedom– There is an insertion of new Section 3A which provides ‘five freedom’ to animals which includes freedom from thirst, hunger, malnutrition, freedom from discomfort due to the environment, freedom from pain, injury, diseases, etc.

Animal Birth Control (Dog) Rules, 2001 (Amended in 2010)

The Rules have been enacted under Section 38(1) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, which states that the Central Government is empowered to make rules to carry out the purposes of the Prevention of the Cruelty of Animals Act, 1960. It states that stray dogs cannot be killed, beaten, dislocated, driven away, or displaced. The sterilization procedure should be performed according to Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001. It directs the procedure for controlled breeding, immunization, sterilization, and licensing and divided the duty of street dog management among the local authorities and residential associations.

The ABC rules describe the main function of the management to control and care for stray dogs by sheltering them, sterilization, providing them with regular vaccination, etc. The Supreme Court in the case of Animal Welfare Board of India v. People for the Elimination of stray troubles and others have ordered the implementation of the ABC Program to control the stray dog population in all the state of India to ensure that the Animal Birth Control Rules 2011 is implemented in true spirit.[5]

Indian Penal Code, 1860

Section 428– States the punishment for killing, poisoning, maiming, or rendering useless any animal of the value of ten rupees or upwards will be punished as simple or rigorous imprisonment for upto two years or with a fine or both.

Section 429– It gives the punishment for poisoning, maiming, killing, or rendering useless any animal having a value of ten rupees or upwards (includes all cattle/beasts of burden) will be punished as simple or rigorous imprisonment for upto two years or with a fine or both.

Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

Section 39 of the Act states that it is illegal to harm any wild animal or tree. If any person is found guilty of an offense under the Act will suffer a sentence of three years in jail and a fine of twenty-five thousand rupees or both. A second offense will result in seven years prison sentence and a ten thousand rupee fine.


As previously discussed, India has implemented various dog laws and has faced several court disputes, making it crucial to strictly adhere to these laws. The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed Animal Birth Control, which has been adopted by the Government of India. Its primary objective is to prevent the overpopulation of dogs by sterilizing them, providing vaccination against rabies, and releasing them back to the areas where they were captured.

To achieve this goal, coordination is necessary between the central government, state government, local bodies, and Animal Welfare Board. The government should also provide adequate funding and budget for the treatment and care of dogs. Furthermore, awareness should be raised regarding the adoption of stray dogs, and people should be discouraged from supporting the mass killings of animals.


How can we address the issue of aggressive stray dogs in India?

It is important to deal with stray dogs in a humane and lawful manner. One approach is to show kindness to them and provide them with food and basic amenities.

What should someone do if they want to have dogs sterilized or vaccinated?

The process of requesting sterilization and vaccination for dogs is relatively simple. Individuals can approach their local municipality or animal welfare organization responsible for their area and make the request.

What are the consequences of animal cruelty in India?

u003cstrongu003e1.u003c/strongu003e According to Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, various forms of cruelty to domesticated and wild animals are punishable. The offender may be fined ten rupees, which can be increased up to fifty rupees. If an offense is committed within three years of the previous offense, the offender shall be punishable with imprisonment for a minimum of three months and a fine ranging from twenty-five to one hundred rupees.u003cbru003eu003cstrongu003e2. u003c/strongu003eAdditionally, under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the offender can be charged under Section 428 and 429. For Section 428, the offender can face imprisonment for up to two years with a fine, or both. For Section 429, the offender can be imprisoned for a term that may extend up to five years.

[1]Vijay Dhage &Dr S.P Kalamdhad, Population Control of Dog’s in India: Need of an hour, Vol 10 Issue 10, ISSN:2320-2882 2022).

[2]Civil Appeal No. 5387 of 2014

[3]Appeal (civil) 4937-4940 of 1998

[4]Sharmila Sankar and Ors v. The Union of India and Ors, W.P No. 9513 of 2021.

[5]Petition for Special Leave to Appeal (C) No(s) 691/2009

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