How fair is it for those living in high rise buildings, to be expected to take the staircase when wanting to take their pet out for a walk? This question has caused a stir since a recent viral video — of a young boy being bitten by a pet dog in an elevator of a housing society in Raj Nagar Extension, Ghaziabad — surfaced on social media. The incident reportedly took place on Monday evening, and has incited many emotions, among which is the insensitivity of the dog owner, who can be seen standing unresponsive to the child’s discomfort, after her dog bit the child in the elevator.
“I didn’t like the reaction of the lady after the incident,” says Arindam Banerjee, a government official in GST department and an animal lover. He adding, “It’s understandable if you as a pet parent are unable to do anything in that very moment, but the least you could have done is to pacify the little kid as he was visibly shaken. Somewhere I also feel that the fact that it was a pet and not a stray, would at least prevent the dog from the irrational wrath of the public, which is quite a norm in such situations. But yes, the pet owners must be more cautious and aware of their pets’ traits and habits.”
Reportedly, the boy’s mother later filed an FIR, after the kid’s father tried to confront the pet owner, only to be ignored. The controversy then led the maintenance team of the society — which has 11 towers of 23 storeys each — to ban residents from taking their pets in elevator. This notice left the residents and animal lovers divided on the issue, and subsequently more videos of dog biting incidents, around elevators, surfaced online from pan India.
“Dogs are habitual of living in small confined spaces.The moment one enters its space, they have a tendency to feel someone is trying to encroach their territory. Thus, the dog in the Ghaziabad clip is probably having this thought process in its head feeling ‘This is my space now’. So the very moment it sees someone unfamiliar enter, it attacks,” says Mukul Arya, dog behaviourist. He feels it’s not rare to see such incidents involving dogs, and elucidates, “These incidents highlight the importance of inculcating lessons under dog training as well as working on the owner’s behaviour in confined public spaces, such as an elevator. For instance, if a dog is on a leash, just holding the leash in a proper manner can avoid such incidents. But it’s not wise to generalise one incident and penalise the pet owners living on higher floors because we just can’t confine our dogs to our apartments.”
The circumstances surrounding the situation at hand need to be viewed in a much more nuanced manner, as per Meet Ashar, lawyer and animal rights advocate. He is associated with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and opines, “The move by this one residential society to ban use of lifts by pets is not only unfair but illegal as per law. How do they expect people who are living in the higher stories of the building to not move around with their pets? That notice which was released by the society has no legal standing and is unenforceable in law. While this incident is unfortunate, the RWAs do not have the sanction under the law to impose such a ban. In the recent past, the Kerala High Court had ruled against such a ban being imposed by the societies on the use of common facilities by pets.”
This makes Arjita Singh, a student who passionately looks after street dogs, request people to not show outrage against the animal whenever such situations arise. She says, “The first thought can sometimes be that of angst against the dog. But, we also need to keep in mind that the animal lacks the intelligence and rationality that we humans possess. If we feel we are suited to own a pet, we are also responsible for its behaviour. You cannot be blaming the dog in this case as its totally its owners responsibility to ensure no one is hurt, at least in the pet parents’ presence.”
Author tweets @karansethi042