GUWAHATI: The Assam police has issued an order to district police chiefs to ensure that action is taken against people abandoning their animal companions over COVID-19 fears and against pet shop owners who left animals unfed in locked shops, a police officer said on Tuesday.
The state police headquarters issued the order to the Guwahati city commissioner of police and all superintendents of police following a letter from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India to the Assam Director General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta.
PETA India Emergency Response Team's associate manager Meet Ashari in a press release on Tuesday said, "We thank the Assam police for directing its officials to ensure that those who treat animals cruelly during the COVID-19 crisis are booked under the stringent provisions of the law."
Breeders and pet shops sell animals to anyone willing to buy them often on a whim no matter their ability to care for them.
And now, there's concern that both pet shops and the people who buy animals from them are neglecting or abandoning animals in their care."
According to the Indian Veterinarian Association, the current spread of COVID-19 is a result of human-to-human transmission, Ashari said.
"Till date, there is no evidence that companion animals spread the disease. Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare," the release said.
In its letter, PETA India pointed out that the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) had in its March 11 advisory acknowledged that some people were abandoning their pets on the streets without food and water and urged law-enforcement authorities of the states and union territories to take action against such offences.
In another advisory on March 23, the AWBI requested the law-enforcement authorities to ensure that no animals suffer from hunger during the lockdown due to coronavirus outbreak.
The following day it also advised that district authorities must search pet shops in case animals are locked inside without adequate food, water, and ventilation and rescue such animals when necessary.