GUWAHATI: The Assam government has banned the use of spiked bits – harnesses or yokes with spikes, knobs or projections or any sharp tackle or equipment – to control animals.
The state’s Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Department issued an order to all district veterinary officers directing them to ensure that the spiked bits are not used by anyone to control animals.
The order was issued based on a complaint by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, India (PETA-India).
The PETA-India had pointed out the rampant use of spiked (or “thorn”) bits – devices with metal spikes sticking out – to control horses throughout Assam although these were banned under Rule 8 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Draught and Pack Animals Rules, 1965.
The population of horses and ponies in Assam is estimated to be 0.13 lakh, according to the 20th Livestock Census 2019 conducted by the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying.
The PETA-India said the spiked bits used to control horses could sink more than a centimetre deep into their mouths thereby ripping their lips and tongues and causing extreme pain, bloody wounds, immense psychological trauma, and lifelong damage.
“These illegal torture devices lacerate horses’ mouths and leave them with tremendous pain and the weapons don’t belong at joyous occasions like weddings or anywhere else,” PETA India senior legal counsel Swati Sumbly said.
“We are grateful that the Assam government is calling for a crackdown on the use of these harmful spiked bits and PETA-India is ready to lend a hand to help enforce the law if needed,” Sumbly said.
Based on the results of a multi-state survey of government efforts to enforce India’s ban on using spiked bits on horses, the PETA-India had in December last year launched a nationwide campaign, aimed at helping the police enforce the ban.
Earlier, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Delhi, Karnataka, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh issued orders mandating the enforcement of the prohibition.
“The PETA-India is campaigning not only for the police to search for and confiscate the illegally-used devices but also for laws to be introduced to include a ban on the manufacture and sale of spiked bits, a loophole that needs to be closed,” the PETA-India said.