No person can operate a pet shop or carry on with the business of trade in pet animals without a certificate of registration from the State Animal Welfare Board
The Centre has notified new pet shop rules, setting standards for animal housing and care across the country. Now, no person can operate a pet shop or carry on with the business of trade in pet animals without a certificate of registration from the State Animal Welfare Board.
Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Pet Shop) Rules, 2018, notified by the Union environment ministry on September 6, any person already operating pet shops may apply for registration within 60 days with the respective state animal welfare boards.
If pet shop owner, who does not have a valid registration, fails to apply within a specified time period, it will result in sealing of the pet shop.
Animals confiscated from such shops will be sent to an animal welfare organization recognized by the Board. The rules provide standards for accommodation, infrastructure, housing, general care, veterinary care and other operational requirements. These include elimination of wire mesh for the floors of the enclosures, a health certificate from a veterinary practitioner for every animal on sale, and a written exercise plan for any pup over 16 weeks of age
In absence of specific rules in place, the pet shops across the country are currently being operated without any regulation. As a result, many of them grossly violate the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 by blatantly selling wild animals.
“Animals sold in pet shops are treated as commodities and the cruelty they are subjected to at the hands of pet shop owners is unthinkable. The situation in pet shops demanded a crying need of a regulation and we are pleased that the government and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change supported us in identifying the issue,” said Gauri Maulekhi, trustee at the People for Animals (PFA) – an animal rights organisation led by Union minister Maneka Gandhi.
Maulekhi, government liaison officer for Humane Society International/India (HSI/India), told TOI on Wednesday, “The notification of these rules is half the battle won, and what we now await is a thorough implementation of these rules to ensure that no pet shop owner is allowed to thrive illegally.”
She said, “If thoroughly implemented, new rules will bring a strict regulation and monitoring. The move now spares tens of thousands of animals from abuse in the pet shop industry.”
The HSI/India and the PFA had long been following up the issue with the ministry, pitching for the rules to regulate pet shops across the country.
Besides registration under the rules, a separate application will have to be made for every pet shop or any premises being used for the pet trade. Such a certificate will be valid for a period of one year. It’ll be non-transferable, and subject to review.
The Rules say that the pet shops that seek to be registered will be inspected by an authorized team upon receipt of the application. On being satisfied that the applicant and the establishment comply with requirements under these rules, the State Board will recommend the application for registration to the board.
Every pet shop owner will now have to maintain a record book with the particulars of breeders and suppliers of pet animals, trade transactions and their details.
It says that the records of the customers buying pet animals must also be kept. Additional records required to be kept are “mortality register” and “health register.”
On receipt of a complaint for noncompliance of these rules by pet shop owners, an inquiry or inspection will be conducted by an authorized inspector of AWBI or the State Board.
Animals found to be ill-treated or sick will be confiscated and sent to a recognized animal welfare organization for treatment. The pet shop owner will be liable for any expenses incurred for the care and treatment of such animals.
If violations are discovered during the inspection, the State Board will issue the owners a notice of show cause. The State Board may, if it is not satisfied with the response received, or if no response received from the owners, cancel the registration and communicate the reasons in writing. Subject to appeal, the pet shop may be sealed or registration reinstated as the case may be.
According to the Rules, every registered pet shop owner is required to submit an annual report to the Board detailing the total number of animals traded, boarded or exhibited during the previous year.