As adorable as they are, India’s extreme weather conditions are no place for dog breeds like the St. Bernard or the Siberian Husky. On Monday, the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) issued a notice that echoed a similar sentiment, banning the import of foreign pedigree dogs for the purpose of breeding. It’s a move that has been welcomed and lauded by animal lovers and activists across the nation, with the import of such dogs only being allowed for India’s defence and police force, R&D organisations for conducting research and individuals bringing in pets along with their valid documents in the name of the importer, reports the Times of India.
“We commend DGFT for this historic ban which will prevent the suffering of thousands of dogs. Our shelters are inundated with abandoned foreign breed dogs mainly because the owners have poor understanding of the breed’s requirements,” stated Gauri Maulekhi, consultant with Humane Society International-India and a People for Animals Trustee, speaking to TOI. Top foreign dog breeds usually cost Rs.20,000 and more, and is a highly lucrative market for breeders who are heavily criticising the government’s decision. “Breeders do it for passion,” said C V Sudarshan, secretary of Kennel Club of India. He further points out that while certain people may have turned dogs into commodities, “you cannot penalise all breeders.”
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The ban has garnered a lot of mixed reactions, Chennai-based breeder Prakash Prem stated that the move would only increase the price of the popular breeds, that also by a couple of thousands. “Those who do it like a cottage industry, known as ‘puppy mills,’ will benefit from the new order,” he said. Naresh Kohli, the owner of Jaws n Paws in Delhi, points out that instead of stopping the import of breeds that can in fact acclimatize to Indian weather conditions a ban should be put on just certain breeds, such as Tibetan Mastiffs and Rottweilers.
The past few years have seen a dramatic rise in the number of street dogs, which now also include numerous pedigree dogs that are abandoned and let loose on the roads once they fulfill their breeding purposes or their owners cannot maintain them anymore. Several dog breeds suffer in India’s extreme heat, such as Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamute’s which are primarily snow dogs. While some of these breeds can adapt to Indian climate, not all of them have the ability to adjust and in the end suffer. “We now hope that the government complements this decision by enacting the pet shop and breeder regulations as recommended by the Law Commission of India,” said Maulekhi, referring to a report published in 2015 titled ‘Need to Regulate Pet Shops and Dog Breeding and Aquarium Fish Breeding,’ urging the Central government to regulate trade in pet shops, dog and aquarium fish breeding practices.