KOCHI: The police action against a cat show held at Gold Souk, Kochi, last week has shed light on the illegal nature of pet shows being held in the city. According to sources, many similar shows are held without the permission of authorities. "The international cat show held last week was organised by a Bengaluru-based individual. He was charging a hefty amount as the entry fee. On inquiry, we found the show was held without the permission of the Animal Welfare Board.
When asked them to wind it up, they manhandled our officials. A police complaint was filed. We plan to proceed with legal action," said Asha Sanil, Ernakulam district Panchayat President and chairperson, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).
The organisers had bought a Russian and a German as judges. "Many exotic varieties of cats worth lakhs were exhibited here. When asked to produce the papers, all they had was the room rent receipt from the Kochi Corporation. Besides, the judges were here on a visiting visa and hence cannot take part in such activities," said Sajeev, secretary, SPCA.
According to him, many similar shows are being conducted in Kochi. "Violation of rules start from transporting the animals to exhibiting them. Most of the shows are held for business purposes. The price of many breeds, including devon rex cats, amount to lakhs. We act whenever a complaint is filed," he added.
Confusion over authority
There is a confusion over who is responsible to take action against such shows. Animal activists think transferring the power from district panchayats to District Collectors will help clamp down such activities.
Animal Welfare Board is an advisory body and SPCA is a statutory body. In Ernakulam, SPCA gives permission and monitors such shows," said Sajeev. But, according to Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Kerala, member Vinod Damodar, SPCA does not have the authority to initiate legal action against such shows. "The organisation itself is weak," he said.
Meanwhile, many activists cite legal hurdles with regard to giving permissions. "Except for displaying elephants at temples, no other animal should or can be used for performative function. Hence, all the shows conducted here are a violation of the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules 2001 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960," said Vinod Damodar.
NGOs to take legal course
After witnessing no action from the authorities concerned, many NGOs are taking legal action seeking to enforce the regulations across the state. "Many of these shows are being done without providing any facility to the animals. They are put under neon lights without food or water. Despite filing several complaints, no action has been taken yet. We are planning to file a writ petition at Kerala High Court to formulate regulations for the conduct of such shows. Constitution of a monitoring authority in each district is another demand," said Ambili Purakkal, founding member, Daya Animal Welfare Organisation.