In a move that has brought cheer to groups advocating animal welfare, the government has announced a ban on the import of dogs for breeding and other commercial purposes in India. A nitification in this regard was issued by the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).

“Import of commercial dogs for breeding or any other commercial activities is not permitted”, it read.

However, the ban exempts import of dogs for specific purposes which include research (with the advice of the Committee for the Purpose of Control And Supervision of Experiments on Animals) and for internal security, viz., the police and defence forces.

Several animal rights groups including the Humane Society International (HSI India) and People for Animals (PFA) have been lobbying with the government to ban the import on dogs for breeding as it was resulting in the overpopulation of street dogs in the country. Foreign breeds, besides being expensive to manage, are not suited for the country’s tropical climate. Such breeds include St Bernards, Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes and others, which are being imported by breeders in India.

This, believe activists, has led to a rising number of foreign breed dogs being abandoned by their owners. The move by the government will prevent the suffering of thousands of dogs, they said.

Animal rights groups now want the government to turn its attention to the pet shop and breeder regulations and get them in tune with the regulations suggested by the Law Commission of India.

Last year, the commission had published a report titled “Need to Regulate Pet Shops and Dog Breeding and Aquarium Fish Breeding”. The report had suggested that the central government regulate the trade in pet shops and dog and aquarium fish breeding practices, and take action on the issue.

Many breeders, on the other hand, have criticised the decision and understandably so. The move, they say, will make buying a foreign dog in India more expensive, thus affecting their business.