No more cuddly

India sees a spurt in Pitbulls being abandoned out of fear

Pitbulls' aggression, a USP till recently, is now scaring pet owners in India.
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Image: Reuters (Reuters)
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More Pitbulls have been abandoned by Indians in recent weeks than ever before. Pet owners are apparently spooked by reports of people, including children and the elderly, being attacked by dogs of this aggressive breed.

The American Pit Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Terrier, the Bull Terrier, and the American Bully are among the dog breeds that are commonly known as Pitbulls.

“There have been a lot of requests of taking in Pitbulls suddenly. Our volunteers keep receiving calls of these dogs being found tied to a pole or left on a road in a bad shape after their owners decided to not let them live in the house,” Nidhi Garg, who runs a non-governmental organisation (NGO) for dogs in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, told Quartz.

Garg isn’t alone. NGOs in and around Delhi are facing similar situations.

“We had a spate of abandonments, up to five a week...Some abandoned dogs have also come with skin problems and maggots, and are emaciated,” Geeta Seshamani, co-founder of Friendicoes, told The Indian Express. Delhi-based Friendicoes helps abandoned pets find new homes.

In Noida, which borders Delhi, “at least 5-6 Pitbulls were left by their owners outside...House of Stray the past two months,” PTI reported.

Pitbull attacks have scared pet owners

Multiple incidents reported in recent weeks have highlighted Pitulls’ characteristic aggression.

On Sept. 10, for instance, a man walking along with his mother in a Lucknow park was attacked by a dog of the breed. A few days earlier, on Sept. 3, a Pitbull freed itself from its owner’s leash and mauled a 10-year-old in Ghaziabad, near Delhi.

Last month, in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut, a teenager was hospitalised in a “critical condition” following a similar attack.

Pet dog sellers in the doldrums

Pet shops and dog breeders have witnessed a sharp downfall in the popularity of Pitbulls in recent months.

“Until February and March, a Pitbull dog used to cost around somewhere between 15,000 rupees ($189) to Rs20,000, but now the cost has reduced to a minimum of Rs3,000 in some parts of the country because nobody wants to buy them now,” said Vishal Kumar, owner of a pet shop in Uttar Pradesh.

Pitbulls were once popular, especially among those keen on dog fights. However, the aggression that is their USP has made their survival in India difficult, according to Kumar.

Others, however, disagree.

“All dogs are aggressive, it’s a matter of the level of aggression in each breed, people do not know how to handle and manage this breed and now these poor dogs are paying the price,” Garg said.