House of horrors: Pet shops in Bengaluru

City Crime

Despite strict rules and regulations, pet shops in the city are found violating the laws.

Even after four years of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Pet Shop) Rules, 2018, enforced by the Centre making it mandatory for pet shops to be registered with respective State Animal Welfare Boards, pet sellers in Bangalore are still running their pet shops without a licence and a registration.

Several pet sellers in the city are still not adhering to the laws, selling exotic animals which range from ball python snakes to pocket monkeys without a proper licence. To import such exotic breeds of animals and birds, the pet sellers need to have all the import permissions from the centre as well as from the state animal board. The pet seller should possess all the necessary documents that show the import of the animals is being done through legal channels.

In most pet shops in Bengaluru, many birds and animals are kept in one cage, mostly unclean without a proper supply of food or water. These animals and birds often struggle for space to survive. Pet shops also sell ornamental fish alongside without having a licence. Selling of fish without a licence is considered an offence according to the laws.

 Advocate Sebastian, an animal rights lawyer based-out of Bengaluru said, “To combat the illegal wildlife trade, implementing the law strictly is essential. However, it is also equally essential to educate the masses and make people aware of the brutal live animal trade. This issue should be brought to people’s attention as ignorance is the core of the problem.”

He added that it is the responsibility of the authorities to conduct inspections after giving out animal trade licenses.

  • A pet shop in Jayanagar closed after being served notice by the authorities.

A shopkeeper from a pet store in Jayanagar said, “Keeping a proper licence for running a pet shop is very important, the licence should be pasted in a place where it is visible to all, it gives some amount of assurance to the customers visiting the store.”

A recent report said a raid was carried out in the country by the Karnataka Animal Welfare Board (KAWB) along with the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Veterinary Department, the Bengaluru City Police, the Animal Husbandry Department, and NGOs. It resulted in rescuing 1,344 animals from 16 species. Many shops did not adhere to the rules and regulations of the law, while some of them kept the animals without proper medical facilities and the injured animals were kept untreated.

KAWB said that they have issued notices to 44 shops to obtain licences to run their business Of these, 24 applied for the licence and 20 others have been served notice of closure of their shops. KAWB has also urged people to check if pet sellers have valid licenses before buying pets.

Diya (name changed) who bought a turtle as a pet last year said that she did not know about the rules and regulations before buying a reptile as a pet. She said, “Also I did not know about the fact that a pet shop needs to own a license before selling animals.”

Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu Chavan, in an interview with Asian News International (ANI), said that the state government will take strict action against pet sellers if they are operating shops without registering with the Karnataka Animal Welfare Board. He added that in the upcoming days, officials have been instructed to inspect all the pet shops in all the districts of the state.

An official from BBMP Veterinary Department said, “We are planning to do an inspection drive through the city in accordance with other state departments so that these pet shop owners are bound to follow the laws.”

India is still a major hub for the illegal tracking of animals. Currently, India is one of the top 20 countries for wildlife trafficking and ranks in the top 10 for trafficking wildlife by air. According to the Smuggling in India Report 2019-2020 published by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), there is an increase in demand in India for exotic species from various parts of the world since the trade of Indian species has been banned.