Pitbull Attack: Why demonize the dog, blame lies with the owners!!

What is the reason then we are witnessing increasing incidents of these dogs attacking their masters who not only feed them but are their companions of sorts.

Pitbull Attack: Why demonize the dog, blame lies with the owners!!

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Pitbull Attack: A dog’s loyalty is worth all the legends associated with it. It is considered as man’s best friend that has lived in close proximity with mankind for over several thousand years. Evidence of dogs being part of human households have been found in ancient engravings of the earlier human civilizations. This shows how humans and dogs have lived in a perfect unison since ages.

Assyrian Huntsmen with Hounds
Assyrian Huntsmen with Hounds, Neo-Assyrian Period, reign of Ashurbanipal II, 645-635 BCE. Photo: www.worldhistory.org (Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin)

However, something has gone wrong with this companionship, with several cases coming to the fore, where dogs have fatally attacked their owners. In most such cases, there are some specific breeds of dogs that are involved . These breeds include Pitbull, American Bulldog, Rottweiler, American Bully, Doberman or German Shepard. In July this year, in a widely covered case, an 82 years old woman, Savitri, was fatally attacked by her pet dog and suffered grave bite injuries in her abdomen and neck. She succumbed to her injuries during treatment at a trauma center in Qaiserbagh area of Lucknow. The dog was a Pitbull.

Another Pitbull Attack
In a recent incident, a 6 years old girl was attacked by a Pitbull dog while she was playing in a park in Ghaziabad’s Loni. Her ear was bitten off by the dog in the gruesome attack. It is being said that the treatment would continue for the next couple of years and the total cost would go into lakhs of rupees.


Reasons behind Pitbull Attack
With an increasing number of people, especially in urban India and metropolitan cities going for pet ownership that too of aggressive breeds like pit bulls, such incidents are becoming a very common occurrence. Dog breeds like Pit Bulls are indeed aggressive but are very much domesticated breeds known for their loyalties to their masters.

What is the reason we are witnessing increasing incidents of dogs attacking their own masters?  Do these cases justify demonizing some dog breeds and give us the right to tag them as “killers”?

According to Bathinda based, Dr. Ajinder Pal Singh Gill (DVM, USA), who is a Veterinary Officer with the Government of Punjab, it is certainly not about the dog breed, but how it is kept and trained that matters. While interacting with Rabbi Calra of The Statesman, he raised some important issues pertaining to owning aggressive dog breeds.

Pitbull Attack: Why demonize the dog, blame lies with the owners!!
Dr. Ajinder Pal Singh Gill with his dogs


According to Dr Gill, “It is disheartening to see some people buying dog breeds like Pitbull and American Bully, as a lifestyle article. Songs, movies and media have shown these dogs as aggressive and dangerous and painted a picture for them. Most people, especially the youth, want a piece of that glamour and want to show-off these dogs just like other articles of possession. For most of these owners, it is like owning a swanky car or carrying the latest mobile phones. It is very sad”.

In some remote areas of the country, especially in Punjab and Haryana, illegal dog fights are organized. Do you think such practices add to the demand of some dog breeds?
Certainly yes, Although dog fights are illegal, they are still organized across some villages and the organizers even share the videos of such fights over social media. Some people who watch such videos are motivated to buy these dogs without having proper knowledge about the temperament of the breed and what all is required to take care of such dogs. They just want to be associated with these dogs, as a matter of fake pride.

Some people just own a dog, to portray themselves as “formidable” in their vicinity. They restrict the dog to a certain area, while keeping it leashed, most of the time. Dog breeds like Pitbull and Pakistani Bully are mostly used in these dog fights. However, what people need to understand is that these breeds are categorised as work-dog or guard-dog. They are not killers by nature, they just require special training and must not be confined to a particular space.

When this is done and they are deprived of any social interaction, be it with other dogs or humans, they become highly anxious. This behaviour further turns into aggression, when they come in contact with humans, so their primate attacking instinct is triggered. There is a whole lot of understanding that goes with owning such dog breeds, but people’s ignorance causes untoward incidents.

Most dogs show aggression, when they feel threatened and want to show dominance

Dr. Ankit Narang (M.V.Sc) is a Patiala-based animal surgeon, who has his own clinic and regularly treats dogs of various breeds. He maintains that dogs, who show aggression, are in fact threatened and it is their defense-mechanism, to attack, when they feel so. He lists a number of reasons behind such behaviour and accuses the owners of ill-treating the pets.

What according to you is the “ill-treatment” given to the dogs, that causes them to become aggressive?
There are a number of factors that contribute to the ill-treatment, the most important is lack of understanding about the dog’s needs. These animals have special needs that need to be addressed, but people act selfish and ignore these needs. Most dog-owners do not assess their space and conditions, before deciding to own a pet. I have seen people living in small apartments owning large dog breeds such as a German Shepherd or Rottweiler.

This would definitely contribute to the dog’s aggression. These breeds need a large area, because, by instinct, they are work-dogs or shepherd-dogs that have been used in farms. This is considered as confinement. Another reason is lack of training. People do not understand how important it is to properly train the dog. While training the dog, a strong bond is formed between the owner and the pet.

Pitbull Attack: Why demonize the dog, blame lies with the owners!!
Dr. Ankit Narang


What are the factors that must be kept in mind when owning such breeds?
The most important aspect is leashing the dog for prolonged hours. Again, the root-cause behind this is lack of training. When the owner is not confident about the dog’s behaviour, or whether the dog would be controlled by command, he is bound to keep the dog leashed. It is important to make the dog comfortable in the company of other humans.

Allow them to be near kids and control their behaviour through training. A dog must behave according to the master’s commands, that’s one of their primate instincts, they are naturally obedient and loyal. Also, allow them to socialize with other dogs in the vicinity, especially in the growing years. The more comfortable they are, the better they would behave and would control their emotions.
Another very important factor in this regard is separation anxiety. It is seen that people buy or adopt fully-grown dogs from others. This instills a sense of separation anxiety among the pets and they are uncertain about the new conditions, people they would come in contact with or the physical factors present at their new home. It is thus very important to make the dog comfortable in such a scenario, where the dog’s family has been changed.

Concluding remarks on  Pitbull Attack

The bottom-line is ‘understanding’. Humans need to be more empathetic towards their age-old companions. The more people understand about the special needs of the dog, the better it will be for the society. It is not a particular breed which is aggressive or dangerous, it is about a link which is missing from the human end and it must be addressed to avoid such incidents in the future.