The cabinet has approved the draft of "Animal Welfare Act,” which aims to stop cruelty towards animals and ensure responsibility for their welfare.
The draft proposes a maximum of two-year imprisonment and a Tk50,000 fine for killing an animal and six-month jail and Tk10,000 fine for cruelty towards animals or using them for excessive toil.
The approval was given at the regular cabinet meeting held on Monday at the Secretariat, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in chair.
Also Read- Dog lovers take to streets against culling
“The new Act has been enacted to protect vertebrate animals, including pets and domesticated animals, from human cruelty,” Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam told reporters after the meeting.
“According to the draft law, showing unnecessary cruelty towards animals or beating them is considered a punishable offence, even if it is the owner who commits the offence,” Shafiul said.
“The director general of the Department of Livestock Services, authorised officials under that department, or any police personnel holding the rank of a sub-inspector or above can file a case against any person who commits such offences.”
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Cabinet meeting held on Monday approves draft of Animal Welfare Act PID
Currently pet breeding businesses, especially of dogs, are growing, though many of them are not registered.
Regarding this issue, he said: “The commercial breeding and management of pets needs to be animal friendly and registered with the department concerned.”
Also Read- Massive protest against dog culling in Ctg
The draft of this Act, which is more inclusive, comes on the back of a 2014 High Court rule banning dog culling. Obhoyaronno-Bangladesh Animal Welfare Foundation in 2014 filed a writ petition with the High Court, which later issued the rule.
Nonetheless, the slaughter goes unabated and the High Court rule is ignored in cities like Chittagong. On January 28, residents of Chittagong took to the streets
to criticise the cruelty and blatant disregard for law by the Chittagong City Corporation in culling the stray dog population in the city.
The protesters’ demands were to bring an immediate end to the ongoing dog culling across the country, to modify currently brutal methods and to bring the animal law of 1920 in accordance with contemporary demands. This included demands for the introduction of an anti-rabies vaccine to tackle dog bites and use of modern technology instead of culling to control dog reproduction.
Also Read- Around 150 stray dogs culled in Chittagong
Rakibul Haq Emil, coordinator of the human chain, told the Dhaka tribune: “The High Court rule delivered in 2014 clearly states that unnecessary killing or injuring of an animal in brutal ways are punishable.”
In the days preceding the protest, 150 dogs were said to have been slaughtered
and left to rot on the streets. Photos of the dogs went viral on social media, giving rise to the protests.
Also Read- Delinquent torments dog to death for amusement
The story of animal torture and death is an ongoing one. Every few days, posters of Facebook groups such as Dog Lovers of Bangladesh and Cat Society of Bangladesh share stories of pets being tortured and killed.
As recently as on February 18, a user shared a post about an injured dog lying on the side of a road at Tolarbag. The dog, hit by a passing vehicle, could not walk, and pedestrians were reluctant to come to its aid.
However, people are now more aware of animal care – thanks to individuals, and organisations like PAW (People for Animal Welfare) Foundation and Obhoyaronno who are volunteering relentless in favour of the animals.