Just in time for Independence Day (15 August), PETA India has placed billboards in Chandigarh, Indore, Lucknow, and Pune encouraging residents to be patriotic by adopting a lovable desi dog from the streets or an animal shelter, rather than adding to a crisis in which 80 million dogs and cats are already living on India’s streets by patronising breeders and pet shops that sell foreign “pedigree” breeds. PETA India’s billboard campaign follows three recent attacks on humans in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh by pit bulls, who are specifically bred for fighting and aggression.
“Pedigree” dogs sold in pet shops and by breeders are typically deprived of proper veterinary care, adequate food, exercise, affection, and socialisation. Because they’re bred for certain exaggerated physical traits, such as flat faces or long backs, many foreign dog breeds – including boxers, German shepherds, and Labrador retrievers – suffer from abnormally high rates of genetic and hereditary diseases. Common ailments found in purebred dogs include breathing problems, cancer, heart disease, bleeding disorders, skeletal malformation, and eye problems. In contrast, Indian community dogs are healthier and more robust.
Foreign purebred dogs, like pit bulls, are also often bred for aggression and for use in criminal activity, such as dogfighting. In response to the recent news about a second pit bull attack, wherein a teenager was critically injured in Meerut just days after an elderly woman in Lucknow was mauled to death by her son’s pit bull, PETA India has urged Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Shri Parshottam Rupala to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Dog Breeding and Marketing) Rules, 2017, to prohibit the keeping and breeding of pit bull–type dogs, as well as dogs bred for illegal racing and brachycephalic dog breeds.
Foreign brachycephalic dogs such as pugs, popularised in India by the Vodafone commercials, are known to suffer from severe respiratory problems, such as brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome and eye and skin disorders. Pugs and other brachycephalic dogs, including Pekingese, shih tzu, and Lhasa apsos, are also predisposed to proptosis due to their shallow eye orbits – a condition in which the eye bulges out of its socket and which requires emergency surgery. Cavalier King Charles spaniels, also a brachycephalic breed, suffer from syringomyelia, a condition in which a dog’s skull is too small for their brain, as they are bred for an unnaturally small head.
Celebrities Madhuri Dixit, Alia Bhatt, Sonakshi Sinha, Raveena Tandon, Trisha Krishnan, Dino Morea, and Imran Khan are among those who have urged their fans to choose adoption of community cats and dogs by working with PETA India.