Pets Can Be Taken Outside for Walks During Covid-19 Lockdown, Maharashtra Govt Tells Bombay HC

Pet owners in Maharashtra have been allowed to take their animals outside for walks during lockdown, the state government told the Bombay High Court on Friday.

A circular to this effect was issued on June 1 and the police and civic officials were asked not to prohibit owners from walking their pets, said Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhkoni.

A division bench led by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a Pune resident seeking permission to take her dogs outside.

The state government's directive followed a circular issuedby the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) stating that pet owners should be allowed to take animals for walks and prohibiting it would amount to animal cruelty.

The AWBI circular, also issued on June 1, was placed before the HC by the Union government on Friday.

The PIL filed through advocateHarshwardhan Bhende claimed that several police stations in Pune had issued "arbitrary directions" to housing societies to stop residents from taking their dogs for walks.

There were also instances of police stopping ambulances and pet taxis ferrying sick animals to vet clinics and Pune Police were refusing to issue passes for such vehicles during lockdown, advocate Bhende claimed.

During the previous hearing on May 10, another bench of the high court had directed the government to issue a "clear directive" to the police to ensure that ambulances or other vehicles ferrying pets and sick animals to and from veterinary clinics should not be stopped.

The court had also asked the Union government to make clear its stand on permitting pet owners to take dogs outside for walks during the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh on Friday submitted the AWBI circular to the court, saying the Union government's stand was in consonance with it.