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Explained: Why Centre Has Put a Ban on Sale, Import of 23 'Ferocious' Dog Breeds

Experts, however, say the breeds that the Centre has specified as 'ferocious' are actually not inherently so.

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In a bid to address the instances of attacks by dogs, the Central government on Tuesday, 12 March, sought a ban on the sale and import of certain dog breeds.

In a directive issued to states and Union Territories, the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying has barred people from keeping as many as 23 breeds of dogs as pets.

In a post on X, the department said the decision was taken over "concerns about public safety" – adding that breeds such as Rottweilers, Pit bulls and American Bulldogs were "under review".

In its directive, the department also added that these breeds of dogs, which have already been kept as pets, should be sterilised to "prevent further breeding". Further, it sought state governments to ensure that no licences or permissions are issued for the sale, breeding, and keeping of these breeds which are "dangerous for human life".

So, which breeds have been banned by the Centre? And what actually led to the Centre imposing this ban? The Quint explains.

Explained: Why Centre Has Put a Ban on Sale, Import of 23 'Ferocious' Dog Breeds

  1. 1. Which Dog Breeds Have Been Banned?

    The breeds identified for the ban, including mixed and crossbreeds, are Pit bull Terrier, Tosa Inu, American Staffordshire Terrier, Fila Brasileiro, Dogo Argentino, American Bulldog, Boesboel, Kangal, Central Asian Shepherd, Caucasian Shepherd, South Russian Shepherd, Tornjak, Sarplaninac, Japanese Tosa and Akita, Mastiffs, Rottweiler, Terriers, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Wolf Dogs, Canario, Akbash, Moscow Guard, and Cane Corso.

    These breeds were banned on the recommendation of an expert panel set up by the department under the chairmanship of the Animal Husbandry Commissioner with members from various stakeholder organisations and experts.

    The expert committee was formed after citizen groups complained of attacks on people, sometimes fatal, by these dogs.

    Expand
  2. 2. How Complaints from Citizens, Delhi HC Order Paved Way for Move

    Flagging recent instances of deaths of humans due to dog bites by some breeds of dogs kept as pets, the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying said it has received representations from citizens, citizen forums, and Animal Welfare Organisations (AWOs) to ban some breeds to be kept as pets and other purposes.

    The Centre's directive comes after numerous representations from citizens and AWOs, as well as a Delhi High Court order asking for a ban.

    In its 6 December 2023 order, the Delhi High Court directed the Centre to decide "expeditiously, preferably within three months, a representation to ban and cancel the licence to keep 'dangerous' dog breeds such as Pit bull, Terriers, American Bulldog and Rottweiler."

    During this hearing, the court also stressed the need for promoting the local breeds of dogs which are "sturdy".

    "Indian breeds need to be taken care of. They are far sturdier. They don't fall sick that often because they have acclimatised. Today, we are vocal for local," the court observed.

    In its plea to the High Court, the petitioners had alleged certain dog breeds such as "Bulldog, Rottweiler, Pit bull, Terriers, Neapolitan Mastiff are 'dangerous dogs' and are banned in more than 12 countries, including India, but the Municipal Corporation of Delhi was still registering them to be kept as pets."

    The petition also highlighted that there had been numerous incidents of such dog breeds attacking people, including their owners.

    The recent move also comes after appeals from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India to "protect vulnerable dog breeds commonly exploited by criminal elements of society for illegal dogfighting, as well as for the safety of humans. PETA had also filed a writ petition in the Delhi high court regarding this.

    Shaurya Agarwal, PETA India Advocacy Associate, told The Quint after the Centre's directive, “This order is key toward providing vital protection for both humans and dogs and sends a strong, clear message that Pit bulls and other such breeds are bred to be used as weapons. Pit bulls and related breeds are the most commonly abandoned dogs in India, and this action can prevent a great deal of suffering.”

    Expand
  3. 3. Why Animal Rights Activists Are Not Happy

    Not everyone is convinced about the Centre's directive.

    Anupam Mehta, founder of Touch And Treat, told The Quint that the list of breeds that the Centre has specified as dangerous are actually not ferocious.

    “What actually happens is breeders abandon these breeds when the dogs grow old. In India, 90 percent of breeding is illegal (without licence). What this recent directive by the Centre will do is put an end to illegal breeding. People will be compelled to adopt from shelters.”

    Earlier, experts have emphasised to The Quint on the owner's role in moulding a Pit bull's behaviour and the importance on proper training and breeding practices.

    Renowned dog trainer and founder of Delhi’s K9 School, Adnaan Khan, said that the biggest myth surrounding pit bulls is that they are “inherently aggressive.”

    “What happens is that if you get a breed like this, if you don't exercise them, don't channelise their prey drive and are not able to teach them the right methods before their defence drive starts kicking in at around 8-9 months of age, then the dog has slipped out of your control and is more likely to have a misdirected drive.”
    Adnaan Khan

    Tandrali Kuli from Friendicoes, a popular animal shelter in Delhi, had laid emphasis on proper legislature around dog breeding, and said, “We don't have good laws for breeding. So, anyone is breeding anything they want to. No one is stopping them.”

    She further said, “ No one in the public has knowledge. There is no awareness, no interest, and no sensitivity to even know about it.”

    She attributed such attacks to improper handling and said, “Unfortunately, a lot of them (pit bull attack incidents) are because of wrong handling or because their needs are not met.”

    In January this year, a man in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, was attacked by his pet Rottweiler who allegedly hadn't been fed the whole day. The dog bit the man and tore flesh off his arms and legs, causing more than 60 wounds, according to reports.

    In the same month, four other similar instances were reported. One of these was a seven-year-old boy who was attacked by a pit bull in Mahendra Park, northwest Delhi, while he was playing near his house.

    In Vishwas Nagar, a pit bull attack resulted in injuries for a two-year-old boy. A pit bull attacked a 1.5-year-old infant in the Burari Nagar Colony in Uttarakhand. It resulted in the infant getting 18 stitches after suffering three separate leg fractures. She was also hospitalised for 17 days.

    In January, an American bully is said to have attacked a seven-year-old girl in Shahbad Dairy while she was playing outside her home. Another report claimed that a pit bull grabbed an 18-month-old girl from her grandfather’s lap and began to maul her at Uttarakhand Colony in Burari area.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

Which Dog Breeds Have Been Banned?

The breeds identified for the ban, including mixed and crossbreeds, are Pit bull Terrier, Tosa Inu, American Staffordshire Terrier, Fila Brasileiro, Dogo Argentino, American Bulldog, Boesboel, Kangal, Central Asian Shepherd, Caucasian Shepherd, South Russian Shepherd, Tornjak, Sarplaninac, Japanese Tosa and Akita, Mastiffs, Rottweiler, Terriers, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Wolf Dogs, Canario, Akbash, Moscow Guard, and Cane Corso.

These breeds were banned on the recommendation of an expert panel set up by the department under the chairmanship of the Animal Husbandry Commissioner with members from various stakeholder organisations and experts.

The expert committee was formed after citizen groups complained of attacks on people, sometimes fatal, by these dogs.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

How Complaints from Citizens, Delhi HC Order Paved Way for Move

Flagging recent instances of deaths of humans due to dog bites by some breeds of dogs kept as pets, the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying said it has received representations from citizens, citizen forums, and Animal Welfare Organisations (AWOs) to ban some breeds to be kept as pets and other purposes.

The Centre's directive comes after numerous representations from citizens and AWOs, as well as a Delhi High Court order asking for a ban.

In its 6 December 2023 order, the Delhi High Court directed the Centre to decide "expeditiously, preferably within three months, a representation to ban and cancel the licence to keep 'dangerous' dog breeds such as Pit bull, Terriers, American Bulldog and Rottweiler."

During this hearing, the court also stressed the need for promoting the local breeds of dogs which are "sturdy".

"Indian breeds need to be taken care of. They are far sturdier. They don't fall sick that often because they have acclimatised. Today, we are vocal for local," the court observed.

In its plea to the High Court, the petitioners had alleged certain dog breeds such as "Bulldog, Rottweiler, Pit bull, Terriers, Neapolitan Mastiff are 'dangerous dogs' and are banned in more than 12 countries, including India, but the Municipal Corporation of Delhi was still registering them to be kept as pets."

The petition also highlighted that there had been numerous incidents of such dog breeds attacking people, including their owners.

The recent move also comes after appeals from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India to "protect vulnerable dog breeds commonly exploited by criminal elements of society for illegal dogfighting, as well as for the safety of humans. PETA had also filed a writ petition in the Delhi high court regarding this.

Shaurya Agarwal, PETA India Advocacy Associate, told The Quint after the Centre's directive, “This order is key toward providing vital protection for both humans and dogs and sends a strong, clear message that Pit bulls and other such breeds are bred to be used as weapons. Pit bulls and related breeds are the most commonly abandoned dogs in India, and this action can prevent a great deal of suffering.”

0

Why Animal Rights Activists Are Not Happy

Not everyone is convinced about the Centre's directive.

Anupam Mehta, founder of Touch And Treat, told The Quint that the list of breeds that the Centre has specified as dangerous are actually not ferocious.

“What actually happens is breeders abandon these breeds when the dogs grow old. In India, 90 percent of breeding is illegal (without licence). What this recent directive by the Centre will do is put an end to illegal breeding. People will be compelled to adopt from shelters.”

Earlier, experts have emphasised to The Quint on the owner's role in moulding a Pit bull's behaviour and the importance on proper training and breeding practices.

Renowned dog trainer and founder of Delhi’s K9 School, Adnaan Khan, said that the biggest myth surrounding pit bulls is that they are “inherently aggressive.”

“What happens is that if you get a breed like this, if you don't exercise them, don't channelise their prey drive and are not able to teach them the right methods before their defence drive starts kicking in at around 8-9 months of age, then the dog has slipped out of your control and is more likely to have a misdirected drive.”
Adnaan Khan

Tandrali Kuli from Friendicoes, a popular animal shelter in Delhi, had laid emphasis on proper legislature around dog breeding, and said, “We don't have good laws for breeding. So, anyone is breeding anything they want to. No one is stopping them.”

She further said, “ No one in the public has knowledge. There is no awareness, no interest, and no sensitivity to even know about it.”

She attributed such attacks to improper handling and said, “Unfortunately, a lot of them (pit bull attack incidents) are because of wrong handling or because their needs are not met.”

In January this year, a man in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, was attacked by his pet Rottweiler who allegedly hadn't been fed the whole day. The dog bit the man and tore flesh off his arms and legs, causing more than 60 wounds, according to reports.

In the same month, four other similar instances were reported. One of these was a seven-year-old boy who was attacked by a pit bull in Mahendra Park, northwest Delhi, while he was playing near his house.

In Vishwas Nagar, a pit bull attack resulted in injuries for a two-year-old boy. A pit bull attacked a 1.5-year-old infant in the Burari Nagar Colony in Uttarakhand. It resulted in the infant getting 18 stitches after suffering three separate leg fractures. She was also hospitalised for 17 days.

In January, an American bully is said to have attacked a seven-year-old girl in Shahbad Dairy while she was playing outside her home. Another report claimed that a pit bull grabbed an 18-month-old girl from her grandfather’s lap and began to maul her at Uttarakhand Colony in Burari area.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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