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Ban on ‘violent’ breeds harsh: Activists

The notice, issued on March 12, sought to ban the import, breeding and sale of pit bulls and other foreign breeds that are used for illegal dog fights across the country.
Last Updated : 18 April 2024, 21:57 IST
Last Updated : 18 April 2024, 21:57 IST

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A blanket ban on certain ‘ferocious’ dog breeds is uncalled for, say animal rights activists, backing the Karnataka High Court’s decision to quash a circular issued by the central government.

The notice, issued on March 12, sought to ban the import, breeding and sale of pit bulls and other foreign breeds that are used for illegal dog fights across the country.

Though PETA India backed the circular, the court asked for a freshly formulated one after taking into account the opinions of all stakeholders.

Upbringing important

It is unwise to ban breeds because a dog’s behaviour is not dependent on its breed, believes activist Neveena Kamath. She states that environment and training play the biggest roles in the temperament of a dog. “I have seen docile pit bulls and rottweilers — both breeds are considered dangerous,” she shares. She adds that though certain breeds have a propensity for aggression, it can be managed with proper training. 

While she disagrees with the central government’s circular, she is supportive of a ban on breeding of foreign dogs in general. “These dogs, especially St Bernards and huskies, are not meant to live in the tropics. They are naturally found in the Alps or the polar regions. They suffer through our summers. Some are tied up on terraces in the heat and live in appalling conditions,” she explains. 

No licensed breeders

Sujaya Jagadish, another activist, says that given the “unsuitable conditions and genetic predisposition of certain breeds to react with violence when triggered intentionally or unintentionally, it is hard to argue for their breeding”.

Animal rights advocate Priya Chetty-Rajagopal points out that there are no licensed breeders in Bengaluru. All the breeding that is being carried out is therefore illegal. “So who is the circular meant for?” she asks.

She says the government has done some great work when it comes to the protection of animals. “One cannot import dogs, unless they are already the pet of someone moving to the country. And we are the first country to ban cosmetic testing on animals,” she says. But the March 12 circular is unnecessary and confusing, she adds.

Not meant for tropics

In Western countries, these dogs were bred for certain purposes, like guarding cattle or hunting, says Sadhana Hegde, founder of Sahavarthin Animal Welfare Trust. They need a specific lifestyle and diet suited for their genetic makeup. In India, they are bought for ornamental purposes. “If you are keeping hunting or guard dogs at home in wrong climatic conditions then you are putting them in an uncomfortable position, which can lead to aggression,” she elaborates.

Sadhana calls for proper analysis and research before banning certain breeds. “First, there should be a system to regulate breeding along with strict audits in bloodline and genetics of these dogs. Second, are they suitable for Indian climatic conditions is another critical factor to be considered. Third, the government should bring the pet parents of such breeds under their radar and conduct analysis of dog bites and attacks to understand what caused the incident,” she offers.

Commodification of animals

According to Anirudhha Ravindra, cofounder of Praana Animal Foundation, animal welfare laws in India are confusing and difficult to follow. He reveals that there were three licensed breeders in the state. Their licences expired and they have not applied for a fresh licence.

The breeding guidelines are stringent, Priya says. For instance, one cannot breed dogs below 2 years of age, they have to be fed a prescribed diet and a dog cannot be bred more than five times during its lifetime. 

“I believe that if the laws were simplified a little bit, it would be easier for breeders to follow and that will make it easier for authorities to keep tabs on breeding practices,” Ravindra shares, adding that there are at least 30,000 unaccounted breeders in Bengaluru. 

He is appalled that one of the reasons given by the high court for the rejection of the circular is that it will affect the livelihood of the breeders. “I have a huge problem with this. The commodification of animals is precisely what we are fighting against,” he says.

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Published 18 April 2024, 21:57 IST

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