Is dog license mandatory in India?

It has been mandatory throughout the world for all pet owners to register their dogs with the local municipal authorities.

This is a positive step, not only in view of the condition of animals in domestic care, but also to ensure that order is maintained in the way dogs communicate in society with humans, and vice versa.

Dogs have undoubtedly been the first domestic animals for time immemorial, and have followed humans for as long as 20,000 years.

There is now a need for local authorities to develop strict guidelines for how pet dogs should be cared for by domestic owners in modern settlements, where there is population pressure and near density of settlements, and the rules that owners must bear in mind when taking them out in public.

This is particularly true as the number of dog bite cases has gone up dramatically in recent years, and more incidents of animal cruelty are also coming to the fore.

I am delighted that both the political capital of India and the business capital of Delhi and Mumbai have taken measures to ensure that animal lovers fall in line with the registration of dogs, thereby coming under the scanner with regard to obligations such as vaccination.

The BMC has released guidelines in Mumbai concerning pet dogs to help curb diseases such as rabies and leptospirosis. If you don’t have the appropriate licence, the authorities will seize your pet dog at home.

It is compulsory for pet dog owners to have a licence, as per section 191 (A) of the MMC Act. Every year, the BMC charges Rs 105 for issuing a licence and Rs 100 for its renewal. According to civil data, from March 2017 to February 2018, a total of 1,09,563 dog bite cases were registered in the area.

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The BMC has named veterinary doctors in each of the seven administrative zones to ensure the successful implementation of the act. To survey pet dogs, they visit housing societies in their areas. Notices may be given to owners who do not have licences.

Similarly, for all domesticated dogs, section 399 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act 1957 makes registration mandatory. The section also authorises the MCD to detain a dog found in a public place if it has not been licenced or if a competent authority lacks any evidence of registration.

In Delhi, meanwhile, failure to comply with the order to register your pet could lead to consequences such as being given a challan or even the owner’s prosecution. Market-available vaccines are successful for two to three years. But, as per the World Health Organization, the rabies virus is in endemic form in the region, making it important for pets to be vaccinated each year.

I can see that this law is being taken seriously by even smaller cities. The Department of Local Bodies of the Punjab Government adopted the 2017 bylaws of the Punjab Municipal (Registration and Proper Regulation of the Animal and Vision of Animal Attack), in order to make pet contact more orderly with society. The Department of Local Bodies sent the bylaws to state-wide municipal corporations, municipal councils and Nagar Panchayats.

In the diamond-city of Surat, an estimate for 2015 pegged the number of pets at 25,000 across 20,000 households. A petition to have local authorities make it mandatory to register pets was launched here by animal lovers. With the absence of the Kennel Club, pet owners could have registered pets via the microchip system where smart chips were subcutaneously inserted in the pet, also allowing lost pet owners to quickly locate their missing dogs.

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In Goa, too, directives were passed earlier this year to grant registration to pet owners by marking the collars of dogs. As far back as the 1970s, the state had successfully enforced pet dog registration. There is still a discrepancy in municipal authorities having the means to do the required stuff, but attempts have been underway to make it compulsory for pet owners to have their dogs registered because local authorities are shocked by the number of recorded cases of rabies.

I would strongly recommend that you have your dog registered with the local authority if you are a pet owner. When you do so, you, as the owner, can escape prosecution by displaying your pet’s registration certificate in case your dog bites anyone. You can also find a registry certificate useful for finding a pet that may be missing and the certificate comes in handy if your possession of your pet is ever in doubt.

Animal lovers should take comfort in the fact that, as is the case for many unfortunate domestic dogs in our country, this legislation for registering dogs makes it harder for callous pet owners to abandon elderly pets, or pets with diseases.

It is not a boring procedure to have a dog registered. You need a vaccination slip from the vet in Delhi, for example, along with a picture of your pet and Rs 50 to register your pet at a zonal office. In southern Delhi, at a cost of Rs 500, pet owners can register their pets with the authorities online. This has been a good development and for the years 2016-17 the number of pets being registered in this part of the capital rose from 200 for the years 2015-16 to 333.

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You need to visit the area’s local corporate offices to ask for forms to get your dog registered with the municipal corporation. Some municipal corporations also have forms online.