The viral picture of dogs tied in gunny bags shared on Twitter
The viral picture of dogs tied in gunny bags shared on Twitter
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New Delhi: The Nagaland government has decided to ban the commercial import and sale of dog and dog meat days after incidents of the animals being shot emerged along with a photo of them tied in gunny bags. The posts on social media had caused a huge outcry as they claimed the dogs were being taken to the state for sale.

“The state government has decided to ban commercial import and trading of dogs, and dog markets, and also the sale of dog meat, both cooked and uncooked,” Nagaland’s Chief Secretary Temjen Toy tweeted Friday. 


Several Twitter users shared a picture of dogs in gunny bags, with some even saying the canines are now being brought from outside Nagaland as the state “has eaten all its own dogs”.

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‘Shoot-at-sight’ order for dogs

Local authorities in Nagaland had reportedly released a ‘shoot-at-sight’ order in May to kill dogs found roaming on the streets, with local animal rights activists saying it was issued due to the fear they might transmit the novel coronavirus.

On 30 June, in Changki village, Mokokchung district, a dog was allegedly shot dead after the owner let the pet out for a walk. 

A relative of the family, on condition of anonymity, told ThePrint the dog was shot just a couple of minutes after the owners left it outside for a stroll.

“Zoey (the dog) was hardly out for 10 minutes. The owner immediately ran to the spot after he was informed that Zoey was shot by a council member,” the relative said.

Another dog from the same village was reportedly shot in its face the same day. It later died.

Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Police of Mokokchung Lima Wabang Jamir had taken cognisance of both incidents, and a case was registered on 2 July under appropriate sections of the IPC and under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCAA), 1990.

The DC also stated legal proceedings would be initiated under sections 428 and 429 of the IPC, and PCAA against any village authorities, wards, individuals and groups acting in contravention to the Act.

“We were strictly warned by the colony youths that all the dog owners should confine their pets within their houses. If any dog wanders outside, then they will take the matter in their hands, which basically is a direct threat to the dog owners. There are cases where some of the dogs were killed and hanged in the tree and the owner in fact had to pay a fine of Rs 500 to claim the dead bodies of their dog,” Minu C, a dog owner from Kohima told ThePrint.

“I’m scared of course, so I make sure that my dog doesn’t leave the house. We are always around him and don’t even take him outside for strolls. These cases are too common here. Nobody really cares and no action has been taken by the authorities as well,” she added. 

A letter dated 26 June, accessed by ThePrint, by the Jail Colony Panchayat, Kohima, has a clause that reads: “All concerned citizens of Jail Colony are requested to make necessary arrangements such as kennels and confine their pets in their respective premises before 3 July. Any stray dogs in the locality shall be executed without prior information.”

“It is believed that dogs might spread the virus, also that few dogs have been loitering around the waste near quarantine centres, which can harm the locality/public in general, for which dogs were asked to be chained 24/7,” a member of the NGO, Nagaland Animal Welfare Society (NAWS), who didn’t want to be named, told ThePrint. 

Also read: Allow transport of eggs, meat, animal feed during COVID-19 lockdown: Ministry to states, UTs

Links to illegal dog meat trade

The ‘shoot-at-sight’ order has been linked to the sale of dog meat in the state.

“Not sure if the village councils imposed the shoot-at-sight order for the better welfare of the society or for their own consumption. But in Dimapur recently, after a dog was shot, the body was not handed over to the owner,” the NAWS member added. 

“Every Naga doesn’t eat dog meat. 80 per cent rear them for companionship or to guard the house,” the animal activist added. 

BJP MP and prominent animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi had written a letter to  Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio in May, seeking his intervention into the dog-shooting incidents over Covid fear and ‘shoot-at-sight’ orders issued by local authorities. 

“The administration shouldn’t use this as an excuse to kill dogs that can be used commercially,” she said. “Shooting at sight and eating of dog meat both are illegal,” Gandhi wrote

According to the Food Safety and Standard Regulations, 2011, it’s illegal to slaughter dogs and cats for consumption. 

Gandhi on 30 June wrote a long post on the Instagram account of People for Animals (PFA), an animal rights NGO founded by her, in which she said how it’s time to stop dog killing and eating in Nagaland as it’s “illegal” and can’t be allowed “under the guise of culture”.

View this post on Instagram

Dog killing and eating carries on in Nagaland unabated. This is illegal according to the laws of India and it cannot be allowed under the guise of culture. It is time to stop it. All the dogs are now being brought in from outside the state as Nagaland has eaten all its own dogs. They come from as far away as West Bengal and Assam. Trucks full of dogs are being taken to Nagaland at night, crossing the border illegally. The dogs mouths are tied with rope so that they cannot bark. Many die of suffocation on the way. Many of you can be bearers of change if you simply write an email. I am not going to give you a prepared letter because I want you to make your own. This is a picture of the animal bazar in Dimapur taken on the 26th of June. I want you to protest in a civilized manner to the Chief Secretary of Nagaland Mr Temjan Toy and ask for the police to stop the dog bazars and the dog restaurants in Nagaland. The police should stop the dogs from coming in and the smugglers must be caught. This practice must stop. This is his email : I want *50,000* emails to go to him in *three days*. So for the next three days make sure you and all your friends write to him. *We can change the world together* Maneka Sanjay Gandhi @manekagandhibjp #save #stop

A post shared by People for Animals (@pfa.official) on

In a press release, dated 2 July, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO), an apex body of animal rights groups, said, “Dogs are smuggled regularly to Nagaland from Assam and West Bengal. A dog, caught in Assam for Rs 50, is sold for Rs 1,000 in Nagaland’s wholesale market.”

“Dog meat sells for Rs 200 per kg on the streets of Nagaland, which is about Rs 2,000 per dog,” it added.

(Inputs from Yimkumla Longkumer)

Also read: Walk, play, train — how dog parents are keeping pets happy, engaged and safe in lockdown


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