Govt to come out with policy to stop euthanasia of Army dogs

Army service dogs that are euthanised on retirement can now hope to get a new lease of life.

New Delhi: Army service dogs that are euthanised on retirement can now hope to get a new lease of life.

The Army's current practice of euthanasia of the service dogs will be stopped under a policy to be announced "soon" by the Government that will also detail arrangements for these animals upon their retirement, the Delhi High Court was told on Wednesday.

The Court was informed about the government stand as it agreed to hear a PIL seeking a direction to the Indian Army not to euthanise service dogs after their retirement or when they are found unfit and inactive.

A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath listed for consideration on September 9 the matter relating to killing the dogs which have served national security by sniffing bombs, hunting down enemies, locating secret places and fetching evidence.

The court listed the matter after Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain informed it that the Defence Ministry was formulating a policy with regard to the issues raised in the PIL.

Jain told the court that government was working on plans and "will soon" come out with a policy to stop the killings and make arrangements for Army service dogs upon their retirement.

The court observed that the respondents were admitting that the current practice of putting the army service dogs to sleep was against the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

The bench was hearing a PIL filed by advocate Sanjay Kumar Singh, who alleged that the "act of the Indian Army in killing their service stocks once their service years are over is so unreasonable ... Given that these service dogs render as high a patriotic service to the nation as any other by running consistently risk to their lives and limbs in undertaking jobs of providing security to the citizens of this nation against various grave threats and dangers".

The Army generally uses Labradors, German shepherds and Belgian shepherds, depending on the altitudes and weather, besides the nature of the assignment that may include routine patrol to explosives detection.

The PIL sought direction to the Ministry and the Army Headquarters that dogs shall not be killed by Indian Army except "when advised so as the last recourse by quality, considered medical opinion on grounds of such abnormally aggressive behaviour as to pose a risk to the safety of others including its fellow service dogs and handlers".

The plea sought directions to the respondents "that any act of killing by the Army has to be through the most humane method as per the contemporary technology available.

It also sought directions that appropriate arrangements should be made to provide "for proper upkeep and maintenance throughout of the dogs procured by the Indian Army including their service years as well as beyond their service year."

"Failure to provide for the care and well-being of the Army service dogs, once the best years of their life is over and instead putting them to death ? given that the service rendered by the service dogs to the Republic of India is of as high a worth as that of any other ? is reprehensible and unreasonable in the extreme."

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