Living in an apartment complex in India and want to keep a dog? You have every right to! However, there may be instances where your Residents Welfare Association (RWAs) frames by-laws that infringe on your rights as a pet owner. This can include restrictions on keeping apartment dogs, having them use common spaces and more. This is why it’s important for dog owners to be aware of pet laws for apartments in India.

What are pet laws for apartments in India?

Rules for dog owners - small dog on leash

According to Section 51(A)g of the Constitution of India, showing compassion to all living creatures is the fundamental duty of all citizens.

The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has issued a notification that has a detailed list of legalities, guidelines and rules for dog owners as well as RWAs. Read the full circular concerning pet laws for apartments in India here.

We’ve covered the highlights below.

1. Ban on breeds

Pet laws for apartments in India - Big dog breed Rottweiler

According to AWBI’s notification, RWAs cannot ban residents from keeping pets in their apartments, even if this is supported by a majority of residents.

Neither can they restrict the breed of dogs allowed (for example: Large dog breeds like Great Danes, Saint Bernard etc.). In a nutshell, intimidating a pet owner to abandon a pet is considered abetting a violation of law.

2. Fine for defecation

Rules for dog owners - Notice for defecation

Pet owners are advised to clean up after their pets. They are also encouraged to collaborate with other residents to create designated areas for pets to relieve themselves.

Unless there is an explicit state or central law on the same, RWAs and Apartment Owner Associations cannot impose rules, fines or regulations on cleaning up pet excreta.

3. Barking a nuisance

Pet laws for apartments in India - dog barking considered nuisance

As stated in AWBI’s notification, barking is recognized a natural form of expression for dogs and cannot be used as a reason to ban pets in India.

However, pet owners need to make efforts to ensure that barking does not cause a nuisance to neighbours, especially at night.

4. Forcing muzzles

Pet laws for apartments in India - Dog wearing muzzle

Pet owners are advised to keep their pets on leash when walking them in common areas. This is a good practice because it ensures the safety of your dog as well as other residents.

However, pet laws for apartments in India cannot insist on the use of muzzles. In case of incidents of severe harm caused by pets, the negligent pet owners are penalized.

5. No access to lifts

Pet owner rights - Using lifts

Pets cannot be banned from using lifts. RWAs cannot enforce charges on pet owners for using lifts with their pets either.

For best practices, pet owners are advised to cooperate with guidelines on using an alternate lift, if it is present and is conveniently accessible.

6. Ban from parks

Rules for dog owners - Dog inside park

AWBI’s notification advises against banning pets from parks and common areas, as it’s important for pets to get regular exercise for their physical and mental health.

One of the more successful tried-and-tested rules for dog owners in apartment complexes is pet park timings. This way there is no inconvenience caused to other residents.

What to do if your apartment bans pets?

Since not everyone is an animal-lover, you may have conflicts with your RWA or other residents in your apartment. Here’s what you can do in case there is a definite violation of the law or there are excessive restrictions that impact the quality of your pet’s life:

  • Print out a copy of the AWBI notification and share it with your RWA
  • Insist on ensuring that the rights of pet owners are taken into account while framing any by-laws
  • Collaborate with other pet owners in the society to come up with reasonable solutions that benefit all residents.
  • Consult a legal expert to take action in serious cases

With these pet laws for apartments in India, you can keep your dog safe without worry.