Increase in pit bull attacks, experts say ‘stop illegal breeding, train dogs, educate owners about breed’

Within the last two months, numerous pit bull attacks have been reported nationwide. The latest reported incident happened in Ghaziabad, in which a pit bull attacked a 10-year-old. This comes after a teenager was critically injured in Meerut, an elderly woman was mauled to death in Lucknow, while a woman sustained serious injuries in Gurgaon after being attacked by a pit bull. These cases have led People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to renew its call to prohibit the “keeping, breeding, and sale of dogs bred for illegal fighting, shut down illegal pet shops and breeders, and crack down on illegal dogfights”.
But is this about a single breed? Activists and trainers say that it is high time that illegal breeding was curbed and it is not just about a specific breed. “Train your dog properly, teach them social interaction and prioritise educating yourself before getting a breed like that to your homes,” they say.

‘Enrol your dogs in social training’

Kaveri Rana Bhardwaj, founder, SMART Sanctuary, Canine Paralysis and Rehabilitation Center, says, “As per ethical breeding, dogs need to be DNA tested before they can mate. It has many clauses, but we don’t follow them. We get our puppies from anywhere through illegal breeding. We don’t know the genealogy or the DNA of the dog’s parents. This can be achieved only if we stop the illegal breeding.”

Regarding pet parenting, she adds, “Enrol your dogs in social training. It should start as soon as you get a pet. Pet parents need to ensure that nobody gets hurt because of their dog. Be alert when you are walking your pet. If you are in a small space, like a lift, stand between the dog and someone sharing the lift with you, shorten the leash – these are small things you can do.”

‘Pit bulls are capable of being family pets’

Dog trainer and behaviourist Rajvi Mariwala says that pit bulls can very well make excellent pets in the hands of the right owner. “But as any other dog breed, they have the capacity for aggression. The breed is challenging for people who don’t have experience or have a limited understanding of the breed. Unfortunately, both in India and abroad, pit bulls have developed a reputation for being powerful and dangerous. So, when a person buys into these stereotypes they may not put in the effort required to raise such dogs correctly,” says Rajvi. “Such dogs should have a leash at all times in public spaces because people may get scared. In case your dog is rowdy and jumps on people (even in a friendly way), ensure you put in time to teach good manners. The best you can do for your pit bull is be a responsible owner,” advises the behaviourist.

‘People don’t prioritise training; they see it as the last option’
Canine aggression specialist Adnaan Khan, who has been working closely with such breeds, says, “Most of the time, people are not prioritising getting educated before getting a dog. They are not prioritising training, they see it as the last option. When you wish to get a ‘strong breed’ dog, the basic thing is to spend two-three months on research. As soon as you get the pup, invest the first year and a half in training. Get a trainer to guide you through the process, someone with qualifications. These breeds are easiest to train if you understand what triggers them,” he shares.

With inputs from Iti Shree Misra

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