Maneka Gandhi responds to queries raised by animal lovers across the city.
I have heard that it is illegal to sell air guns in toy shops. What should I do if I come across one?
It has taken me 10 years to get the verdict from the High Court that airguns, air pistols and air rifles cannot be treated or sold as toys and anyone wanting to buy one will have to get a licence. Anyone without a licence under the Arms act will be prosecuted. This is the ruling of the Delhi High Court which gave its verdict after the National Rifle Association tried to hold up the earlier verdict for 10 years. People for Animals filed the petition in 2002. So if you see any shop selling these, please inform the police and us.
My doctor says that I shouldn’t keep a dog if I have cancer or diabetes. How true is this?
The only reason a doctor might say something is because he fears an allergy. But neither of these diseases is allergy based nor do dogs have any impact on it. If you feel that the hair might give you secondary illnesses, all you have to do is to comb the dog every morning and bathe him/her once a fortnight. Animals make people feel good. You may be surprised at just how many ways a pet can improve your health.
What is the procedure of getting feathers from peacocks and selling them as decorative items in the market?
The peacock feathers sold in the market are gotten after killing the peacocks and then plucking the feathers out. That is why you hardly see peacocks any more and soon they will be extinct. No feather in the market has a white shaft — they have all been cut off so that you do not see the blood in them which comes when the feather is forcibly pulled out. However the sellers will tell you that they take the feathers from molting birds. This is rubbish. A peacock sheds one feather a day only in the month of August-September and no shopkeeper will wait for that one feather. When we were stopping the sale in Shahtoosh shawls, the sellers defended themselves in court saying they made the shawls from hair that the deer shed. Considering that the Shahtoosh deer called chiru is almost bald, this is impossible.
Why don’t pigeons perch on trees like other birds?
Pigeons will perch on trees, but they are better adapted to the man-made surfaces in urban areas. That’s because human-made structures are good substitutes for the cliffs and ledges of the birds’ natural habitat.
What is the right age to bring a puppy home?
Eight weeks is the minimum age pups should leave for new homes. Puppies go through five critical periods...and it’s very important that they remain with their mother and littermates until seven and a half to eight weeks of age. During the first three weeks of life, puppies have next to no mental capacity and their basic needs are provided by their mother. Little or no handling by humans is required (assuming all is well with mother and puppies). About the fourth week puppies become aware of other living beings. This is an extremely critical period and puppies should not be removed from their mother or littermates. Weeks five through seven they begin socialisation within the litter and also with humans. From eighth till 12 weeks puppies can find a new home and are capable of learning simple training such as Come-Sit-Stay-No.