The expression "to lead a dog's life" describes a person who has an unhappy existence. Some say we live in a "dog-eat-dog world." That means many people are competing for the same things, like good jobs, lives, they say that to be successful, a person has to "work like a dog”, in furtherance to this, I will add “every dog has its day”, meaning everyone will have good luck or success at some point in their lives.  The pet population of India is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. An average of 6 lakhs pets are adopted every year. As per the latest India International Pet Trade Fair and the size of the Indian Pet Care Industry, it is estimated to be over 25,000 crore.

With all these adages being very true and applicable to the world we are living in, it is with ensuing comedy that this incident has to be looked at despite the situation being little awkward rather ! A couple in Ahmedabad filed for a divorce by mutual consent Sec 13B, Hindu Marriages Act 1955, in 2017, while being estranged from 2015. The main contention of the case was, ever since the separation in 2015, the wife took custody of the two dogs they bought while being in wedded bliss. The case when it came to the Court for hearing, it had to be kept in pendency owing to the tussle over custody, of the dogs. Then the case came to a closure after a year when the wife gave the custody of the dogs to her husband. The pets have become a legit part of the Indian family, with most couples seeing them as their furry progeny of sorts. Which is why, our country too, has seen an increase in such pet custody disputes, though actually there is no law to govern them as yet.

According to a Mumbai based lawyer, when asked, on how does one go about deciding who gets custody of the family’s furry baby, this is what she had to say, “for the last two years there has been already five cases reported in the similar fashion. Though there are no laws to decide on the pet custody, it is being decided by the terms pertaining to divorce settlement by mutual consent”. When the agreeable terms don’t work out the couples go for a personal mediation, where in the presence of the lawyers and mediators a couple decided to share the pet on a weekly basis, alternatively. In another case, the wife gave up her alimony amount of Rs.10 lakhs just to get the custody of their pet. In another case, the wife who gave up her alimony settlement just to get the custody of their pet, but claimed maintenance of the pet’s upkeep, where the husband agreed to pay Rs.10,000 monthly as pet support. At times when they don’t arrive at a mutual decision then the court doesn’t interfere and allows the couple to brace themselves for a long-drawn battle.

This being said, In Chennai there seems to be sudden increase of stray dogs on the roads, collared, uncollared, disturbing the walking pedestrians and motorists. Most of the collared ones have been abandoned because they are old, infested with maggot wound, or they are past their breeding cycles. Why are these dogs who were homed till the previous day, abandoned the next?Primarily it is because of financial reasons. Owing to old age the dogs develop some serious health issues and medical treatments are getting costlier to maintain them. Some of them are left in the middle of nowhere because of superstitious reasons on the highway roads where they are prone to get hurt.

It is being reiterated by an animal activist, who has been doing this rescue and rehabilitation of pets, says, that there is a sudden rise in buying of pets on valentine, festival days, birthdays as presents. When the owners realise the amount of work that goes into maintaining the pets just abandon the pets. In the meanwhile the pets get attached to the humans that, when abandoned they go into deep depression, in some cases, they don’t eat, defecate, urinate too. They tend to kill themselves in grief for separation from humans. In shelters for pet, it is more pathetic because they operate on a limited budget and they are not able to feed the pets sufficiently, as the food also comes on a shoestring budget.

Another reason why these dogs are being abandoned, disowned is because of the unethical practices of breeding. To the unethical dog breeder, owner, dogs are seen as a breeding machines throughout their prime. Once the dogs passes its prime, it is let loose on the roads to fend for themselves. When they can’t have a decent life at the adopted homes, how can they have one, on the roads? It is also felt that, when pet shops breed animals longer than necessary, they start forcing the young female dogs to breed at a very young age, which is actually artificial breeding and take away the puppies for sale just after a few days of birth and they are made to breed every 3-4 months, which leads to deterioration of their physical health.

Activists opined that, there are no sufficient provisions under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, commenced on 1st April, 1974. It is also felt that the Government doesn’t seem to have set of rules with pets and ownership. Pet shops and breeding should be regulated. There is so much money involved in this industry, that no service or GST has been levied so far, which is a questionable issue too. People should adopt, rather than buy dogs from the open market. Proper homework is a must before one plans to have pets as it comes with a package of immense responsibility, consent from family, partners, house owners is very essential.

It is very imperative to levy a mandatory rule, for the registration of pet licences by the Government, so that records are kept for each adopted pet to avoid these animals being abandoned, dealt with cruelty in the future at least. I have personally seen people who have had treated their pet dogs as their own kids and still mourn the death of them in fond remembrance. It is needless to say dogs remain faithful, loyal, give all their love to their masters, but whereas how humans treat them is a different story altogether. Just because they don’t talk just as human do, but communicate in their own way, doesn’t mean that the humans’ friend DOGS, should be treated in such heartless and cruel way. A law should be enacted for crime against these pet animals to put a full stop to the treatment meted out to them.