We have been talking about human rights since time immemorial, and this is a never-ending discussion. We are so accustomed to reading stories of the cruelty humans show to each other that it seeing the same happening to animals does not raise a flag. Some say that our species has turned entirely narcissistic, categorizing anything that does not hurt humans in the "irrelevant" column.
Cruel and usual
Chickens overfed and crammed into cages, farm animals treated terribly before being led to the slaughter house, horses whipped during joy rides.... These terrible scenarios are normal to us today. Unfortunately, the law has left loopholes that allows people be as cruel as they want to the poor creatures in India without serious consequences.
We have seen a spate of attacks on animals lately. Across the country, incidents show the utmost disrespect and disregard for animals, especially dogs, cats, cows and birds that are living free and not under the protection of people. It is impossible to ignore the story of the Bangalorean who killed the puppies of a lactating mother just out of frustration, or the children who flung adorable puppies into a bonfire purely for fun in Hyderabad.
Shaktiman, a gorgeous mare in Dehradun, was struck repeatedly by a politician while being held by her bridle so she would not get away. She fell in her struggle, fracturing her leg, eventually succumbing to an agonizing death. Yet another instance is that of a Chennai medical student who threw a shaking dog off a roof or the boy from Punjab who whirled a helpless stray by its tail, both incidents filmed by amused onlookers and posted on social media.
Studies have shown a proven correlation between abuse of animals and psychopathic tendencies. This shows that individuals who harm animals are likely to devolve and cause more damage to human targets. It makes you wonder if the only time we act is when we are in danger.
The laws not stringent
It's not that there aren't laws. If convicted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (PCA), the accused is penalized with either ₹50 or ₹100 depending on whether or not the suspect is a first-time or repeat offender. In the most severe case, the jail time served is three months. This is the current situation for animal welfare in India. Until the laws against animal cruelty are not strengthened, there'll be nothing to deter such violence.
Time for action
We are a democracy, and with that comes a responsibility to contribute towards causes we believe in, without expecting the government to do it all. The first step towards resolution is spreading awareness and voicing the need for stringent animal welfare laws in the country.
The Cruelty Response Program led by Humane Society International/India (HSI India), is an initiative that hopes to create a community of law enforcement and civic authorities to further fight for justice and bring about a constitutional change. Workshops, training programs and activities conducted in the interest of empowering people with adequate knowledge of the existing laws can go a long way in creating a society that is vigilant about animal abuse.
HSI India has created a crowdfunding campaign for the cause on Milaap, through which they hope to fight this evil and be a resounding voice for the creatures that deserve more than our love.