The Supreme Court on May 19, 2022 vacated a stay on the order of the Delhi High court from 2021 and said stray dogs have the right to food, water and citizens have the right to feed them.
With this order, stray dogs can be fed at private driveways/porches or at particular designated spots for feeding in consultation with resident welfare associations.
The local police have the responsibility to ensure no community dog feeder or caregiver is harassed.
High Court had observed that animals have a right under the law to be treated with compassion, respect, and dignity, and that their protection is the “moral responsibility of each and every citizen, including the governmental and non-governmental organisations”.
The order by a single-judge Bench read: “Community dogs (stray/street dogs) have the right to food and citizens have the right to feed community dogs but in exercising this right, care and caution should be taken to ensure that it does not impinge upon the rights of others or cause any harm, hindrance, harassment and nuisance to other individuals or members of the society.”
The feeding of community dogs has to be done at areas designated by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) in consultation with the RWAs of the municipal corporation.
In the situation that there is no caregiver in the community, then it is the duty of the Resident Welfare Association to ensure that the community dogs have access to food and water in the area.
Additionally, no person can restrict another from feeding dogs, “until and unless it is causing harm or harassment to that other person”, the HC said.
This judgment builds on the Animal welfare Board of India guidelines for people taking care of stray dogs:
1)Should participate in dogs’ sterilisation, and yearly vaccination too, since they win the trust of the dogs through feeding them.
2) Should not feed street dogs close to residences not their own, adjacent to areas where children play, or people take walks or areas which are otherwise crowded.
3)Should ensure feedings do not create any littering - if it does, it is advisable to clean up feeding sites.
4) Can feed street dogs inside and outside community premises or gated complexes.
5)Cannot be held responsible for the defecation habits of stray dogs. They can however discuss constructive solutions with the RWA.