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Are Pit Bulls Dangerous? As Ghaziabad Boy Gets 150 Stitches After Attack, News18 Dives Into Breed's Sad Origins

By: News Desk

Edited By: Vidushi Sagar

News18.com

Last Updated: September 09, 2022, 14:17 IST

Delhi, India

Pit Bulls can be loyal and loving pets, provided they are kept in the right ways. (Image: Shutterstock)

Pit Bulls can be loyal and loving pets, provided they are kept in the right ways. (Image: Shutterstock)

Such incidents have left animal lovers and organisations questioning the safety of keeping the pit bull breed as a pet

In another shocking incident, an 11-year-old boy’s face was bitten by a pitbull in Ghaziabad. He recieved 150 stitches. The case comes on the heels of many others, in August, a 36-year-old woman was admitted to the hospital in a critical condition after she was attacked by a Pit Bull dog in Gurugram, causing serious injuries. The woman, a domestic help, had been attacked by the dog in the morning when she went to a house where she works, the police said.

While these incidents are alarming, they aren’t the sole ones reported in recent times. An old woman in Lucknow was mauled to death by her pet dog in Qaiserbagh in Uttar Pradesh in July. The dog, a pit bull, kept biting and attacking the elderly owner for over an hour before she died of the injuries. Another incident from UP was reported on August 7 when a a pit bull attacked and critically injured a teenager who is currently hospitalised in Meerut.

ALSO READ | Pit Bull Mauls 82-Year-old Lucknow Woman, Pet Handed to Authorities

Such incidents have left animal lovers and organisations questioning the safety of keeping the pit bull breed as a

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pet. PETA has also has renewed its call to the government to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Dog Breeding and Marketing) Rules, 2017, to prohibit the keeping, breeding, and sale of foreign breeds of dogs bred for fighting and aggression, such as pit bulls.

As the controversy riles up, one questions, is the dog breed of pit bulls really violent and what do such instances of animal aggression mean? News18 explains:

The History of Pit bulls

While reports state that pit bulls can be a potentially dangerous dog breed, a deeper delve into the history of the animal would be required to understand why this may have happened.

The Pit bull’s origins can be traced back to the early 1800s in the United Kingdom, according to a report by the organisation Love-a-Bull. Pit bulls were bred from Old English Bulldogs (dogs that look similar to today’s American Bulldog), which gained popularity in the British Isles through a cruel blood sport known as “bull baiting." One to two Bulldogs were programmed to harass a bull for hours until it collapsed from exhaustion, injuries, or both. These matches were held for the entertainment of the working classes, as a source of distraction from the monotony of hardship.

However, in 1835, the British Parliament passed the Cruelty to Animals Act, which outlawed the baiting of certain animals, including the bull and bear. When bull and bear baiting was made illegal, the public’s attention was drawn to “ratting." This practise pitted dogs against rats and timed them to see which dog could kill the most rats in the shortest amount of time. Pit bull gets its name from ratting, when rats were placed in a pit so they couldn’t escape. Finally, the public focused on dog fighting because it was more easily hidden from view and thus the law. Ratting and dogfighting both demanded greater agility and speed from the dog, so Bulldogs were crossed with Terriers to create “Bull and Terriers," more commonly known as the first Pit Bull Terrier, the report states.

Then, immigrants from the British Isles arrived in the United States shortly before the Civil War, bringing their Pit bulls with them. During this time, the Pit bull terrier was dubbed the “American" Pit Bull Terrier. Despite the fact that these dogs were bred specifically for fighting, they quickly became a much larger and invaluable fixture in a developing country. These frontier dogs served multiple functions in early America. They were in charge of herding cattle, sheep, protecting livestock and families from thieves and wild animals, assisting on hunts, and acting as hog catchers. Their loyal and loving demeanour with humans, particularly children (hence the “Nanny Dog" myth), earned them a prominent place not only as working dogs but also companions.

The report goes on to explain dogfighting instances in the US and the Congress amending the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 to address dog fighting, among other issues, in 1976. Subsequent positive and negative media attention towards the dog breed, along with rescue and rehabilitation programmes, led to a revival of liking towards pit bulls in the US.

So, are Pit bulls Really Aggressive? The Answer Lies in Its Surroundings

According to Pamela Reid, PhD, vice president of the ASPCA’s Animal Behavior Center in New York, pit bulls are not aggressive toward people in general, but they are “less tolerant" of other dogs than many other breeds. “They also have exceptional tenacity. They set their minds to something and complete it. That is why they are ideal for sports such as weight pulling," she was quoted as saying in a report by WebMD. Reid describes them as “very strong, athletic animals."

However, the report goes on to say that the decision to own a pit bull should not be taken lightly. The breed has been prohibited in some US cities and towns, as well as the UK.

Pit bulls, according to opponents, are more likely to attack. However, the ASPCA, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and other organisations have advised against breed-specific legislation. They cite a study published on September 15, 2000, in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association.

The study, which focuses on fatal dog attacks, notes difficulties in identifying different breeds (especially mixed breeds) and calculating a bite rate. The researchers pointed out that there isn’t consistent data on breed populations and bites, particularly when the injury isn’t severe enough to necessitate an ER visit.

According to Reid, a variety of factors can contribute to an aggressive personality. Breeding dogs for protection, dog fighting, social status, or financial gain is an example of this. Abuse, neglect, tethering, chaining, and insufficient obedience training and supervision are other examples.

…And in India

In India, inciting dogs to fight is illegal under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960. Yet organised dogfights are prevalent in Punjab, Haryana, other parts of north India, and Rajasthan, making pit bull-type dogs used in these fights the most abused dog breeds.

They are commonly bred to be used in illegal fighting or kept on heavy chains as attack dogs, resulting in a lifetime of suffering.

Many endure painful physical mutilations such as ear-cropping, an illegal process that involves removing part of a dog’s ears to prevent another dog from grabbing them in a fight, thereby losing the fight. In a fight, the dogs are encouraged to continue until both dogs become exhausted and at least one gets seriously injured or dies.

The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), the statutory body established under Section 4 of the PCA Act, 1960, states that greyhound races commonly held in Punjab are illegal.

PETA India Veterinary Policy Advisor, Nithin Krishnegowda, said: “The two back-to-back attacks are a wake-up call that if India continues to allow dogs typically used for cruel human exploits such as criminal dogfighting to be bred, more people will get hurt. A prohibition on all breeds used for unlawful fighting and racing and those with breathing difficulties would protect these dogs from being born only to face cruelty and suffering and protect many humans too."

With inputs from IANS

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first published:August 12, 2022, 11:14 IST
last updated:September 09, 2022, 14:17 IST