A LITTLE STREET dog is tentatively wagging its tail as the man holding her smiles into the camera and throws her off a Chennai roof. Eight teenagers burn three puppies alive in Hyderabad. In Ahmedabad, a man throws acid at a dog because he is angry with it. Then there is the shocking case of the politician who beat a police horse in Dehradun with a lathi. Its leg is later amputated and finally after several surgeries, he dies.
The nonchalance with which these acts are committed merely adds to the horror. Dig deeper through the news archives and a plethora of similar stories tumble out, non-stop.
The law seems hobbled, with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960 containing practically non-existent penalties (with a maxi-mum fine of Rs 50) for first-time offenders who maim, mutilate or kill an animal. In contrast, animal abuse in the UK can result in a fine of up to Pound 20,000, jail time or even a lifetime ban on keeping pets.
There are signs of change, though. Poonam Mahajan, an MP from Mumbai has introduced a bill seeking to increase penalties. Also, environment minister Anil Madhav Dave told the Rajya Sabha in a written note that the government is in the process of discussing the necessity and scope of amendments to the PCA Act with various stakeholders.
Poorva Joshipura, CEO, PETA India, says that while it is difficult to find statistics documenting these crimes, reports to PETA have doubled in the past five years. People are finally coming forward to report these crimes.
'Most children naturally feel empathy for animals,' she says,'but they learn cruel behaviour from society and some gradually lose their compassion. This is because cruelty to animals is so engrained in our society that parents often give children the message that it is acceptable to kill or harm animals if it suits a human desire … Psychologists, sociologists and law-enforcement officials know that when youngsters exhibit violence towards animals, it's often an early warning sign of future acts of violence towards humans.'