Nearly 2,000 horses, dogs and mules have been ‘disposed of’ by the army in the last three years. In a written reply to a query in Lok Sabha, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said disposal of animals is done in accordance with regulations for the army. Asked how many animals have been disposed of in the last three years, including 2015, he said, “1,989”.
The Indian Army had, in a recent reply to RTI applicant R Kannan Govindarajulu, said, “Army horses and dogs are evaluated for their fitness with respect to the performance of duties. The animals which are considered unfit for one month active service are disposed of by humane euthanasia.”[content_block id=762 slug=ads1]
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This had led to a huge hue and cry among animal lovers across the country and a Public Interest Litigation was also filed before the Delhi High Court. On July 8, the court was informed that 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.
A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath has listed for consideration on September 9 the matter relating to killing of 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.[content_block id=765 slug=ads2]
Jain had 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 Army generally uses horses and dog breeds like Labradors, German shepherds and Belgian Malinois, depending on the altitudes and weather, besides the nature of assignment that may include routine patrol to explosives detection.
The rules of the Army say that “no army animal will be cast merely on account of age. Animals will continue to be retained in service for as long as they are fit to undergo one month’s active service”.