Pet inspectors may check on animals

Pet inspectors may check on animals

New Delhi: Do you have a pet? You could soon have a pet inspector knocking at your door checking on its well-being, according to the terms of the draft Pet Shop Rules, 2010.

The rules, published by the environment ministry on Friday and have a 30-day objection period, also stipulate that every pet shop owner and pet buyer will need to get a licence from the concerned municipal authorities that needs to be renewed annually.

“I am really glad that these rules are being brought in. There is an entire uncovered section in the Indian trade, which has grown by hundreds of crores in the last 10 years. It has remained unregulated and (the country) is now a major smuggling centre," said Maneka Gandhi, a lawmaker belonging to the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and a well-known animal rights activist.

The rules, mainly meant for pet shops, also mandate infrastructure, housing and handling rules. The norms are meant to regulate operational standards for pet stores regarding sanitation, ventilation, heating, cooling, humidity, special and enclosure requirements, nutrition and medical treatment, besides providing grounds for action against those who break the rules.

Gandhi said the number of pet shops have increased over the past six years, putting them at more than 100,000 in just the metros.

Ambika Shukla, director, People for Animals, an animal protection non-governmental organization, said “These rules have been in the pipeline for a very long time. Pet shops are mushrooming everywhere and there are no rules on who can sell, with what expertise. Animals are not products."

The pet business is thriving, say shop owners.

“Most families nowadays are single-child ones, so they want a companion for their kids. Every lane in Delhi today will have a household dog breeder. There are more than 100-150 breeders in east Delhi itself," said Karan Gupta, owner of Pet Club India, a networking platform for pet shops, breeders, buyers and veterinarians.

Even though there are certain regulations governing pet shops, they are hardly followed, said a store owner who did not want to be identified.

Many shops start by selling pet products, which have wide profit margins, and then start selling pups.

Besides the pet shop rules, the ministry has also circulated draft Dog Breeding and Sales Rules for discussion. These stipulate the licensing and management of professional breeders. Gandhi said the two need to be notified together as they are closely linked.