Breeds Are Not Dangerous... Breeding Is

Breeds Are Not Dangerous... Breeding Is

Ambika ShuklaUpdated: Wednesday, March 20, 2024, 03:05 PM IST
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Breeds Are Not Dangerous. Breeding Is. | Photo: Pexels

With regard to the recent circular issued by the Central government banning 23 dog breeds in India, let me explain the facts of the matter.

At the outset, let it be clear that there is no such thing as a 'ferocious' breed. Breeds merely determine physical features such as size, colour, shape and so on. The design of a pitbulls's jaw is such that once the jaw clamps down it is difficult to disengage. Again this is a physical feature and nothing to do with the temperament of the breed.

The temperament of a dog is individual and totally depends on the manner in which he is raised and treated. Any dog of any breed who receives love, socialisation and care becomes gentle, friendly and trusting. Conversely any dog of any breed who is regularly beaten, starved, kept tied up and isolated will be fearful and hostile.

So it is wrong for any Govt circular to define any breed as 'dangerous'. This determination is not based on any scientific study or empirical evidence. It is pure whim and fancy.

In fact, if there can be any generalisation made, it is that bigger dogs are gentler and good with children because they know they are protected by their size, whereas smaller dogs can be snappier because they feel more vulnerable especially to mischief by children.

That said, there is definitely reason to strictly regulate even ban the trade in the 23 dog breeds mentioned in the Govt circular. In fact, to that I would add two more-- huskies and pugs. And perhaps shitzus.

This is not because any of these dogs, as explained above, is at all inimical to humans, but because of the enormous cruelty that happens to these dogs in India.

Breeders operate mainly from slum areas. They steal pets who remain caged and tormented for the rest of their lives. They are hardly fed and never exercised or socialised. They live in their own pee and poop. The female is forcibly mated twice a year until she finally dies of exhaustion. Death comes as a release. The pups are similarly neglected, they too are crowded into dirty, filthy often rusty cages. Many sicken and die in the absence of any medical care. Those who are supplied to petshops mostly carry parvo and distemper as they have never been inoculated.

Pitbulls are routinely supplied to gangs that organise dog fights which are barbaric bloodsports where dogs are forced to bite, maim and kill each other and people gamble on the outcome of these gruesome spectacles.

The trade in dogs is completely illegal. Under the Petshop Rules which were notified in 2017, all breeders and pet shops were required to obtain licences for which they had to comply with basic standards of care and hygiene. Not a single licence has been issued by any municipality in India in all these years and nor has any action been initiated against any defaulter.

The trade is not just cruel and illegal, it is conducted entirely in the black market. All transactions are in cash and no 'pucca' receipts are provided.

The trade is widespread. Delhi itself has slum pockets where pit bulls are bred. Nor is this secret or privileged information, the municipal authorities are well aware of it. In fact one pit bull is, even at this time, confined in the stall of a public urinal in Meher Chand market-- by a municipal sweeper!

With regard to safety concerns, it is the way these dogs are abused and misused that leads them to become difficult.

So it is not breeds who are vicious, aggressive and dangerous to humans but breeders. The breeder network is a well spread out, organised, well funded, criminal cabal. It is breeders who, within a day of the ban order, managed to approach the High Court and obtain a stay on the ban in Karnataka.

They will do the same in other states including Punjab which is a pit bull breeding hub.

So if the Govt is serious about the ban, it must defend it in Court and reveal the cruelty and illegality of the trade. It is not breeds that are the problem, it is breeding and breeders.

If this ban will put an end or, at least ,a check on the terrible cruelty inflicted on these dogs, this ban must be supported and upheld. But it must be simultaneously clarified that this ban is justified not because any of these dogs are dangerous to humans but because it is humans who are dangerous to these dogs.

The author is a trustee at People for Animals (PFA)

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