The Indian Army has reversed its age-old practice of killing dogs and horses, if they are unfit for the service for 1 month.
A new policy that envisages proper arrangement for old animals’ suitable rehabilitation till they die naturally is under the defence ministry’s consideration, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar informed the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
Last year, the Indian Army came under criticism from animal welfare activists after the force admitted that it killed the unfit animals.
“Army horses and dogs are evaluated for their fitness with respect to the performance of duties. Animals which are considered unfit for one month active service are disposed of by humane euthanasia,” the force stated responding to a right to information query.
This triggered angry reactions from animal welfare activists, compelling Parrikar to take note of the archaic practice.
“The policy regarding rehabilitation of unfit Indian Army animals has been revised and necessary instructions have been issued to Army headquarters regarding immediate cessation of further destruction of old and worn out animals,” Parrikar said in a written response.
Euthanasia would be allowed only for animals suffering from incurable diseases, injuries and terminal diseases, but even those animals are to be dealt with as per the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
The defence ministry has also appraised the Delhi High Court about the proposal to do away with euthanasia of old and worn out army animals and their suitable rehabilitation till they eventually pass away. The High Court is hearing two petitions on this issue.
Army animals are being trained at Remount Veterinary Corps, Meerut and National Training Centre for Dogs and Animals, Chandigarh before they are absorbed into the Army.
Among the dogs, the Army generally uses Labradors, German Shepherds and Belgian Shepherds, depending on the altitudes and weather. Their tasks range from patrolling to bomb detection.