Mumbai: Society residents bar woman from walking dog after she tests positive of COVID-19

Updated: 15 September, 2020 07:50 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

Tardeo housing society refuses to let dog walker take nine-month-old Labrador for walks after owner tests positive for COVID-19

DJ the dog
DJ the dog

After 49-year-old real estate consultant Seema Jogani tested positive for COVID-19, sending her nine-month-old Labrador for walks with a dog walker became an issue as the society feared further spread through the animal.

Jogani resides with her husband, two daughters and the dog, DJ, at Abhilasha CHSL, Gowalia Tank, Tardeo. She said that there was no objection initially but later a society member complained to the BMC. The local ward officials visited the society on September 11 and said that no person should be allowed to step out from the contaminated floor. "Without informing me, the committee instructed the security to bar the walker from taking my dog out on September 12 morning," Jogani said. "They did not give written communication for the barring of my pet since they are worried it could be used against them."

She said the D ward officials too refused to give anything in writing and that there is ambiguity. "They said they felt it was ok for a walker to take DJ out and that there is no law stopping someone," Jogani said.

Abhilasha CHSL in Gowalia Tank area, Tardeo. Pic/Ashish Raje
Abhilasha CHSL in Gowalia Tank area, Tardeo. Pic/Ashish Raje

Police were called on September 12 by the society, they too did not find anything wrong. "Societies need to be more humane towards pets and pet owners. Nobody has stopped DJ from going out since September 13 though."

'There's a lot of fear'

Dina Mehta, 60, a committee member, said the society has had around 15 COVID cases, which has increased fear and anxiety. "We were concerned because the dog will be petted in the house, it could carry germs to the lift and other common areas. The perception of fear is very high. We had requested the family to keep the dog at a shelter while they are in quarantine, mainly to address the fear."

The society has now decided to santise the elevator and other areas the dog might cross while going for his walks two-three times a day. "This has been done to give some peace to society members," Mehta said.

What the law says

Meet Ashar, associate manager, Emergency Response Team — PETA India, said, "PETA India's MArch 13 advisory had clarified that dogs and cats are not a risk. The OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) has said that there is no evidence of companion animals spreading the disease. Hence, there is no justification of this measure.

The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has classified stopping pets and other animals from attending nature's calls as an offence because the accumulation of excreta creates physiological changes and toxicity.

Also, keeping an animal constrained and not letting him go for a walk or for exercise is an offence of cruelty as per the Prevention of Cruelty Animals Act,1960.

The AWBI had requested all local administrations to have at least three 20-minute time slots for pet owners to take pets for walks and exercise during COVID.

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First Published: 15 September, 2020 07:37 IST

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