Online shopping has reduced animals to objects; they are sold at the swipe of a card without as much as a basic background check of the buyer, says VARDA MEHROTRA
Mom!” exclaimed Ravi from the other room, “Come here, look at this cute puppy on this shopping portal. Please buy it for me.” His mother just gave one look at the advertisement, pulled out her card and made the payment.
This is the fate of thousands of dogs sold online, who are bought, sold and listed on various portals. These online portals seldom check the backgrounds of the breeder or the buyer, leaving a huge market for illegal breeders. Words like affordable, best quality and many more are used to attract buyers, thus commodifying pets.
While multiple checks are performed on items like cars, living creatures with the ability to feel pain seem to be treated as mere objects, with little care for their well-being. Some posts even trade animals allowing for an ‘exchange’ and ‘refund’ policy — reducing the status of the animal to nothing more than property or a toy.
Foreign breeds like Huskies and Great Saint Bernards, who find it difficult to acclimatise to Indian weather conditions are sold openly in the online market, not much care taken for their natural living conditions. With the sudden increase in the sale of dogs online, public opinion on pedigreed canines as companions is rapidly turning them into fashion accessories.
The trend of considering pets as fashion accessories started with a humungous increase in the sale of Pugs after a certain mobile operator’s advertisements featuring the dog. This led thousands of sellers to illegally breed and sell these animals in huge numbers. The lack in regulation and DNA testing for genetic defects led to a rise in underbred, diseased and sick pups, which in turn put pressure on already overburdened shelters with an increase in abandoned cases, rescues, staggering medical bills and broken hearts.
This trend of selling pets online has also diluted the efforts of shelters and rescue groups, who have worked hard to generate awareness about adoption of Indie dogs in the minds of the public.
The Dog Breeding, Marketing and Sale Rules 2017, given by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MEFCC) clearly lay down laws to regulate the sale of pets. It categorically states that no puppy less than eight weeks old, is to be sold. Also, rules clearly mention that all breeders must have an AWBI (Animal Welfare Board of India) certificate and that all dogs sold should be given basic vaccinations including one for Canine Distemper.
These rules, however strong on paper, do not see the light of the day when it comes to implementing them on online sellers. Due to the sheer ignorance of these online affiliates, most illegal breeders post advertisements on the internet, without any checks in place.
One such incident which was brought to light recently, was the death of a puppy, Bagheera, after being sold online. Bagheera was listed for sale when he was just 21 days old and died soon after being afflicted with Canine Distemper. This disease, as many would know, is caused by improper care and irregular vaccinations given to the dog, which is due to the lack of knowledge or sheer ignorance of the owner or the breeder. Ignorance on the part of online portals, lack of stringent measures and a dearth of specific checks all led to the death of not just Bagheera, but countless others like him.
The advancement of technology has brought us to a point where we are losing our humanity and moving towards a society which lacks compassion. There is definitely a need to change the way we behave; but there is an equally important need to bring out laws which prohibit these online sellers and breeders to showcase living beings as mere commodities. Let us stand together to ban the sale, purchase and listing of dogs, or for that matter any animal, on these online platforms.
The author is the Director of Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO)
Date: 26 Aug 2018