On 20th October 2022, the Bombay High Court in India ordered that no citizen and no resident of Nagpur and surrounding areas shall feed or make any attempt to feed stray dogs in public places. If any person wants to feed stray dogs, the courts said they should first adopt the stray dog and register it with municipal authorities, or put them in dog shelter homes. The order came into force immediately, but it did not give enough time for feeders to move pregnant and injured dogs to animal welfare organisations, leaving them at risk to die on the streets.
Animal protectionists in the region have said this blanket order is an act of cruelty on dogs, especially for those who are injured and pregnant, and they claimed it goes directly against the Indian Constitution. Article 51A(g) of the Constitution lays down the duty upon every citizen to show compassion for every living creature, including street dogs.
Although there is little doubt that the increasing number of street dogs in India is an animal welfare problem, some see street dogs perform the role of community scavengers and also control the rodent population, thus preventing the spread of diseases like leptospirosis. Also, street dogs may provide companionship to those residents who feed them and act as their stress relievers. In India, many compassionate people feed street animals, but they are often vilified by the general population who say stray dogs and cats are a “menace” and they should not be fed but killed. On 6th November 2022, nearly 400 citizens joined a protest march at Powai, an upscale residential neighbourhood located in central Mumbai, to protest the harassment of those animal protectionists that try to help stray dogs and cats by feeding them.
UPDATE: On 16th November 2022, The Supreme Court in India ordered that no coercive steps shall be taken in pursuance of the order of the Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) which prohibited the public feeding of street dogs. The Court also directed the Nagpur Municipal Corporation to ensure and take steps for the public to feed the stray dogs at appropriate locations demarcated by them.