Who let the dogs out?

The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram has banned 11 foreign breeds of dogs after complaints of dog bites but lack of any alternate plan for their care and housing has left many residents angry and fuming

The guards: Heavy-built dogs are often used as guards in farmhouses and estates / Photo: Getty

Dogs are family! You just can’t issue an order to break our families,” complained Varsha Mishra, who teaches at a private school in sector-46, Gurugram.

The 38-year-old is annoyed with a recent Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) order banning 11 breeds, including the one she possesses, following incidents of dog bites in the area.

After the death of her husband in Covid-19, Varsha had returned to her parents in Raebareli, along with her wolfdogs – Bumpy and Grumpy.

“They were with me during my sleepless nights when Abhay (her husband) was struggling in the hospital bed. There was no one for me, but my dogs and their sparkling eyes. When I lost my husband and couldn’t even hug him for the last time, I cried for hours and hours with Bumpy and Grumpy in my arms. They were the sole source of hope and life, when everything had come to a halt. They have been a constant in my life, and I just can’t let them go,” she spoke as tears rolled down her cheeks.

“I might have thought about sending them back to my parents’ place in Raebareli, but they have already sold their place and are now settled with me in Gurugram,” she added.

Varsha said that for her father, who recently retired from a bank, taking Bumpy and Grumpy out on a walk is a part of daily routine.

“I can’t take that piece of happiness away from my father. I love the way he smiles and plays with them. My dogs are literally a part of my family, and we have been through a lot of painful separations, and we can’t afford any more of it,” Varsha continued.

She believes that the authorities may have their own reason for the decision but they just can’t ban the existence of 11 dog breeds in Gurugram. She felt that blaming dogs alone for injuries is not fair.

“If you hit even a human being, he would hit you back,” she exclaimed, hinting that in most cases it is the fault of the people as the dogs react only when provoked.

“One needs to be cautious, and a simple regulation for the pet parents would have worked. But banning the existence of these dog breeds in Gurugram is very baffling in my opinion,” concluded Varsha.

Raaghav Gaur, a 25-year-old resident of Valley View Estate, Gwal Pahari in Gurugram, narrates an incident to vindicate Varsha’s point on dogs not being the aggressors.

“None of these cases tell the whole story. Pet dogs are generally playful until provoked, and some of these stories are also deceptive,” he says.

“Just a few days ago on the fourth floor in my apartment, a woman was waiting for the lift alongside her dog, a black Labrador, while an old woman walked up to the lift as well,” Gaur narrated.

“Those who have the breed know that Labradors are naturally playful. The dog went ahead to lick the elderly woman’s face in affection, but the woman mistook it for an attack and got terrified.

Tamed: If tamed, even the ferocious American Pit Bull can be friendly with kids known to them

“Members of the society entered into an altercation with the dog owner, but no one realised that the poor dog was just trying to play with the elderly woman. When the situation deteriorated, the president of the resident welfare association stepped in and had to review the security footage, which revealed that the dog was simply trying to be playful.”

Gaur himself has received a notice, which he terms illogical.

“According to the notice, dog owners should muzzle their dogs to avoid mishaps. But muzzling an animal is illegal in our country, so what should we do now? I understand that all of these precautions are being taken to ensure the safety of citizens around dogs, but we must remember that the majority of these pets are harmless, and dog owners are vigilant enough to prevent these incidents from occurring,” he added.

Ritwik Solanki, 29, who works in a multinational firm, was planning to buy a Boerboel this December, as a birthday present for himself.  He had been saving up for the past two years to buy the dog.

“I really like pets and especially heavy-built dogs. I was saving up for a Boerboel for the past 24 months. It is visible that I was emotionally invested in it,” he added.

Standing firm: Boerboel is a South African breed used as a family guard dog / Photo: Getty

“My heart aches for my friends, and people who owned, loved and nurtured the dogs of these breeds. We are humans, we develop emotional bond and connection with the other living beings, we can’t be this inhuman,” Ritwik sighed.

“The authorities are talking about our safety to justify this outrageous order. What about the safety of these dogs? Will they be safe on the streets? Recently a dog was molested, harassed, abused and killed in broad daylight, people recorded the incident [in New Friends Colony]. The killers in the video were seen laughing and enjoying the act,” Ritwik spoke in a vexed tone.

Ritwik also criticised the “one family, one dog” rule that limits the number of dogs for a family to only one.

“What are the families – with more than one dog – going to do with the other pet dogs? Leave them on the streets?,” he asked.

Gaur also believes that the “one family, one dog” rule is nonsense.

“Most families have two dogs, so what do we do with the other dogs? Do we simply dismiss them? There has been no update on this; what should pet parents do?,” he asked.

Enraged: The American Pit Bull Terrier is known for strength, confidence and zest for life. Its ancestors came from Britain. / Photo: Getty

“I’ve heard that the MCG is going to oppose the Consumer Law Forum’s decision of the ‘one family, one pet’ rule; hopefully that works in our favour or at least there’s a clarification of what needs to be done in future,” Gaur concluded.

Manoj Kumar Singh, another dog owner in Gurugram, finds the ban a bit excessive.

“I am not dismissing or ignoring the accidents, but isn’t this approach a little excessive on folks who have reared these dogs for years? Finding them a new home is troublesome. Besides, how they will be handled there, is something that will worry pet parents for a long time. My family grieved for months after losing our first dog,” he said.

“The government should consider other approaches to deal with the challenges. We can implement the required dog training programmes or urge pet owners to begin training their pets.”

Ravinder Poonia, a twitter user who resides in Gurugram and calls himself a dog lover, was upset after receiving a notice from the residents welfare association regarding the ban on dogs. He called for stern action against the authorities if they aren’t able to find alternate accommodation for them.

“Animal cruelty cases should be filed against these corrupt officers if any of the dogs suffer because of these regulations,” he tweeted while tagging MCG and Maneka Gandhi, the Lok Sabha MP and an animal rights activist.

Support for ban

But not everyone is upset with the ban. Some have welcomed it.

Avinash, a resident of sector-30, who suffers from cynophobia (fear of dogs) said that the foreign breeds that have been banned by the authorities are mostly aggressive in nature and are not very compatible with humankind.

“They are animals and can’t be confined to 2-3 bedroom  apartments. You have to take them out for a walk, play with them in open areas. They can’t be chained for too long. Keeping all these things in mind, it is not very safe, neither for the dogs nor for the people to stay close to each other,” explained Avinash.

Even Gaur, who has found the ban a bit strict, agrees that the banned breeds are aggressive in nature.

“The breeds that have been banned are generally quite aggressive in nature, and sometimes people who own these dogs do use them intentionally for their own motives or personal vendetta,” said Gaur.

Shivangi Pandey, a 22-year-old, who teaches at a government school in the National Capital Territory, had to leave her dog back in Jagdishpur, her hometown in Bihar, before coming to Delhi.

She is of the opinion that the small apartments of Delhi are not spacious enough for the dogs.

“They need your time and attention, and in Delhi or Gurugram where everyone is really busy with their lives, it becomes impossible to take care of the pets,” she said.

“In my opinion, it is wrong to keep these dogs confined in a small area. Even if there’s a huge bungalow or a villa, the furniture and other items are so expensive that the pets remain chained even inside the household, which is really bad for their growth. They’ll become aggressive and furious, and that’s very natural. If we are not able to provide them an environment of their kind, we don’t have any right to keep them chained in our apartments,” added Shivangi.

A senior official of the MCG (Municipal Corporation of Gurugram) too advocated the decision.

“I believe that this decision should be carried out in the whole of NCR as well. There are several breeds of dogs that are more suited to outdoors and can’t be fitted in the Indian environment and society. Some of them are originally from extremely cold nations while others are very aggressive and obviously not human-friendly in nature,” she added.

“I personally believe that this should have been communicated a long ago, so that a lot of accidents and injuries could have been prevented,” concluded the official.

Muzzled: The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram has asked owners to muzzle the dogs / Photo: Getty

Why classify dogs as dangerous

Kumar Satyam, an animal rights activist and rescuer says that banning the dogs just because they are assumed to be dangerous to the residents is wrong.

“In my opinion, if the main reason behind the ban is the climatic conditions and environment in India, which is not at all suitable for a number of dog breeds, I’ll be the first person to stand in its support. But in case the ban comes with their portrayal as harmful and dangerous creatures, I firmly stand in opposition to this demonisation of the banned breeds,” stated Satyam.

“It all depends on the way these dogs are raised. We had a Pitbull, Bella at home and I can assure you that she was one of the most peaceful creatures on earth,” he added.

Satyam also hit out at the ‘one family, one dog rule’.

“The authorities and governments are no-one to decide on it,” Satyam continued.

He believes that the regulations are a visible intrusion in a resident’s way of life.

Recently, a Gurugram consumer court had awarded Rs 2 lakh in compensation to a woman who had suffered dog bite. The counsel for the victim had said that an estimated 77 lakh attacks by dogs take place in India every year resulting in 20,000 deaths.

List Of banned dogs In Gurugram

01 American Pitbull Terriers
02 Cane corso
03 Dogo Argentino
04 Rottweiler
05 Neapolitan mastiff
06 Boerboel
07 Presa canario
08 Wolfdog
09 Bandog
10 American bulldog
11 Fila Braseliero

Municipal Corporations other than the MCG that have banned a few dog breeds, in the recent past.

Municipal Corporations Banned Breeds Date
Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Dogo Argentino September 2022
Kanpur Municipal Corporation Pit Bull, Rottweiler October 2022

 

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Ali Fraz Rezvi covers heritage, history, literature and current social issues for the Patriot.