Delhi High Court Directs Centre to Invite Public Comments on Circular Prohibiting Foreign Pit Bull–Like Breeds; PETA India Says the Ban Should Be Strengthened

Posted on by Shreya Manocha

On 16 April 2024, the central government informed the High Court of Delhi that it would defer implementation of the circular issued on 12 March 2024, which sought to prohibit 23 foreign dog breeds used and bred for fighting and attack, and carry out a stakeholder consultation on the issue. In response, a division bench of the High Court of Delhi directed the government to publish draft notifications or rules in relation to the ban and to invite and consider public comments before reformulating or reissuing the ban. PETA India will call on the central government to use this opportunity to see how the circular can be further strengthened to protect these vulnerable dog breeds, who are largely bred to be abused, and safeguard more Indian citizens against attack. PETA India had filed a detailed application seeking to intervene in the proceedings in support of the government’s steps to prohibit the breeds.

In its application, 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.

On 10 April 2024, 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erstwhile expert monitoring committee formed under Rule 4 of the Animal Birth Control (ABC) Rules, 2001, which stand superseded now by the ABC Rules, 2023.

There are 80 million dogs and cats suffering on India’s streets or in overcrowded animal shelters – and pit bulls and related breeds are the most commonly abandoned dog breeds in India. 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. In January, a toddler was hospitalised for 17 days and her leg was broken in three places after she was bitten by a pit bull in Delhi. Also in the capital recently, a man provoked his pit bull to attack his neighbour. In another case, a pit bull critically injured a 10-year-old child in Ghaziabad. And in Haridwar in December 2023, a 70-year-old woman was severely injured by a pit bull. In a famous case, a gym owner’s pit bull killed his mother in Lucknow. In Ghaziabad, recently, a 15-year-old boy was critically injured after being mauled by a neighbour’s American bulldog until he was saved by community dogs.

We encourage those with the time, patience, love, and resources to welcome a dog into their home to adopt an Indian community dog, known for their loving nature, from an animal shelter or the streets.

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