Need for nuanced approaches to address root cause of dog-related incidents, say animal rights activists

New Delhi: Animal rights activists have emphasised the need for nuanced approaches to address the root causes of dog-related incidents after the Centre directed states to ban the sale and breeding of 23 breeds of ferocious dogs.

The central government has directed states to ban the sale and breeding of 23 breeds of ferocious dogs, including Pitbull Terrier, American Bulldog, Rottweiler and Mastiffs, amid rising instances of people dying due to pet dog attacks.

In response to the directive Geeta Seshamani, Vice President of Friendicoes SECA and secretary founder of Wildlife SOS, raised concerns about the sweeping nature of the ban.

She highlighted the importance of responsible ownership and training, emphasising that no dog is “inherently ferocious”.

“No dog is born ferocious. It is how they are handled and trained that leads to such mishaps. Each breed has its characteristics, its own levels of energy and without understanding the needs of big breeds, simply in a desire to acquire a status symbol, out of social snobbery, many people buy such breeds but cannot train them, handle them responsibly or give them the nurturing and exercise and disciplining they need,” Seshamani told PTI.

She pointed out the unfortunate consequences of breed generalisation, where even well-behaved dogs may suffer due to their breed’s reputation.

Seshamani’s sentiments were echoed by Shaurya Agarwal, an Advocacy Research Associate at PETA India.

Agarwal applauded the government’s efforts to protect vulnerable dog breeds from exploitation by criminal elements, particularly in illegal dog-fighting rings.

However, he emphasised the need for nuanced approaches to address the root causes of dog-related incidents, rather than blanket bans that may unfairly target certain breeds.

“This order provides vital protection for both humans and dogs and sends a strong, clear message that Pitbulls and other such breeds are bred to be used as weapons. Pitbulls and related breeds are the most commonly abandoned dogs in India, and this action will prevent a great deal of suffering,” he said.

Agarwal commended the government’s action as a step toward preventing suffering among abandoned dogs, particularly Pitbulls and related breeds. They emphasised the importance of protecting both humans and animals from harm, recognising the role of responsible ownership and enforcement of anti-cruelty laws.

In a letter dated March 12 to chief secretaries of all states and UTs, the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying also said that these breeds of dogs, which have already been kept as pets, should be sterilised to prevent further breeding.

Flagging serious recent issues of death of human beings due to dog bites by some ferocious breeds of dogs kept as pets, the department said it has received representations from citizens, citizen forums and Animal Welfare Organisations (AWOs) to ban some of the breeds of dogs from keeping them as pets and other purposes.

(Published 15 March 2024, 10:02 IST)

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