High Court of Karnataka Directs Central Government to Re-Examine Circular Prohibiting Foreign Pit Bull–Like Dog Breeds

PETA India Says New Circular Must Be Even Stronger in Stopping Illegal Dogfights and Attacks

High Court of Karnataka Directs Central Government to Re-Examine Circular Prohibiting Foreign Pit Bull–Like Dog Breeds

Bengaluru –  Single judge Justice M Nagaprasanna of the High Court of Karnataka pronounced orders in WP No 8409/2024 – Sri King Solomon David & Anr vs Union of India & Ors – quashing the central government circular issued on 12 March 2024, which sought to ban the import, breeding (including cross-breeding), and sale of pit bulls and certain other foreign dog breeds commonly used for illegal dogfights and prone to attack without provocation, even though the petition was filed by an unregistered and therefore illegal dog breeder. The court held that wider stakeholder consultation should be carried out before issuance of a fresh circular. PETA India previously filed robust submissions in support of the central government’s circular before the High Court, demonstrating that it provides better protection for the public as well as for pit bulls and other dog breeds commonly exploited for their muscularity and hard-headedness. The central government has been directed to consult with PETA India in relation to re-formulating or re-issuing the circular.
“The circular issued by the central government responsibly aimed to stop pit bull–type breeds from being torn apart in illegal dogfights and protect citizens from being attacked by dogs bred to be unstoppable weapons,” says PETA India Advocacy Associate Shaurya Agrawal. “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.”
In the application filed before the High Court of Karnataka, 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.
There are 80 million dogs and cats suffering on India’s streets, and animal shelters are overcrowded – 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 February, a 49-year-old man complained to Varthur police in Bengaluru after two pit bulls attacked him. 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. A month ago, a pit bull critically injured a 10-year-old child in Ghaziabad. And in Haridwar in December, 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.



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