Calcutta High Court: Central Government Pledges to Engage in Stakeholder Consultation on Circular Prohibiting Foreign Pit Bull–Like Breeds; PETA India Says Ban Should Be Strengthened

Posted on by Erika Goyal

The Calcutta High Court in a petition titled WPA 8632/2024 in Tanmay Dutta vs State of West Bengal and Ors disposed of the petition challenging the circular issued on 12 March 2024, which sought to prohibit 23 foreign dog breeds used and bred for fighting and attack, as the central government is undertaking stakeholder consultation on the issue, as directed by the Honourable Delhi High Court. PETA India had filed a detailed application seeking to intervene in the proceedings in support of the government’s steps to prohibit the breeds.

pit bull image from pixabay

In the intervention application filed before the Calcutta High Court, PETA India pointed out that pit bulls and similar foreign dog breeds are primarily used for illegal dogfighting in India, even though inciting dogs to fight is illegal under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. Without suitable enforcement and regulation, organised dogfights have become prevalent in parts of the country, making pit bull–type dogs and others used in these fights the most abused dog breeds. Pit bulls and related breeds are also otherwise typically kept on heavy chains as attack dogs, resulting in aggressive, defensive behaviour and a lifetime of suffering. Many endure painful physical mutilations such as ear-cropping and tail-docking – illegal procedures that involve removing part of a dog’s ears or their tail to prevent another dog from grabbing them during a fight. These dogs are encouraged to continue fighting until they become exhausted and at least one is seriously injured or dies. Because dogfighting is illegal, injured dogs are not taken to veterinarians.

The Truth About Dogfights from officialPETAIndia on Vimeo.

In India, there are 80 million dogs and cats suffering on the streets or in overcrowded animal shelters – and pit bulls and related breeds are the most commonly abandoned dog breeds. Breeders do not warn unsuspecting buyers that this breed was developed in the UK through the selective breeding of dogs to accentuate characteristics desirable for use in dogfights and attack, resulting in aggression, abnormally strong jaws, and muscular strength. Although dogfighting was banned in the UK in 1835 and pit bulls and similar breeds are now prohibited there and in numerous other countries, their exploitation is still causing chaos in India.

In the 15-year period from 2005 to 2019, pit bulls in the US contributed to 66% of deaths from dogs (346 fatalities). Combined, pit bulls and rottweilers contributed to 76% of the total recorded deaths there. Severe and fatal attacks by pit bulls and related breeds are increasingly common in India.

Information received by PETA India under the Right to Information Act revealed that all pet shops and dog breeders in West Bengal are unregistered and unlicensed, in violation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Dog Breeding and Marketing) Rules, 2017, and the Prevention to Cruelty to Animals (Pet Shop) Rules, 2018, and thereby illegal. In fact, throughout the 20 states for which PETA India obtained information regarding the mandatory registration of such businesses, only 230 breeders and 483 pet shops were registered. This alarming revelation underscores the urgent need for stricter enforcement of animal welfare regulations across the country.

In April, the High Court of Delhi directed the central government to publish a draft notification or rules in relation to the ban on these dog breeds within two weeks and to invite and consider public comments before reformulating or reissuing the ban. Earlier, a single-judge bench of the High Court of Karnataka passed an order quashing the central government circular. PETA India points out that this order contains several errors. Most glaringly, it directs the government to consult the erstwhile expert monitoring committee formed under Rule 4 of the Animal Birth Control (ABC) Rules, 2001, which stand superseded now by the ABC Rules, 2023.

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