‘Before Owning A Pet, Find Out The Breed’s Requirements’

Vishal Mishra, an avid dog lover in Lucknow, says many pet owners keep big, aggressive dogs as trophies, without knowing about their needs for space, love and physical activity

The shocking incident of a Pit Bull mauling its owner in Lucknow recently, and the resulting media coverage, had at least a few positive outcomes. One, pet owners are now trying to find more about the needs of their pets and; two, municipal officials have become more watchful in inspection of pet licenses in the city. However, most pet owners still remain ignorant about the wellbeing of their dogs. Let me offer my two bits.

Keeping high-end dog breeds, often imported ones, has always been a status symbol among Indians. However, with the arrival of social media, everybody now wants a pet so they can regularly boast about their possessions like a trophy. It matters little to the owner if he has adequate space and time for the breed that he has brought home.

The most important point, according to the requirements of a specific breed, is the space for a dog. A large dog which has guarding or hunting features, is unsuitable to be kept in a small living space. Also, every dog needs its own physical activity (including mating) which will enable it to live its full life and capacity. A dog also requires playful company, care and time of its owner. Another important thing is to adopt the dog at its prescribed age so that it can adopt its new family well.

Most dog owners, who buy pets more as a prize-cup than a family member, fail on all these counts. Often, large, aggressive dogs are kept in small apartments, with insufficient physical activity and veterinary care (like deworming, vaccination). I personally know people who live with a family of four in a 1200 sqft housing unit but keep a pet the size of a Siberian Husky.

ALSO READ: ‘Don’t Judge A Pit Bull By One Stray Incident’

If any living being is not getting the minimum required space and movement, it will surely affect its mental health and may bring drastic or dangerous changes in its behavior. This is what possibly happened in the case Pit Bull.

Many owners barely have the time for their pets, other than walking the dog once in a day to answer nature’s call. This is sheer cruelty. I have three pets, two Labradors and one mongrel. I ensure that besides having ample playful time with them, I tend to their medical needs, besides yearly renewal of their licenses.

Recently, a team of municipal officials came to our housing society and besides mandating the license, it requested pet owners to take help of professional trainer for guidance. However, as far as I have experienced, if you provide the basic amenities to a dog like space, physical activity, attention and partner, you do not need a formal trainer.

Pitbull, Doberman, Boxer, German Shepherds etc. may help their owners get attention or awe, but improper bringing up of these powerful dogs can pose a serious threat to people’s lives too. Dogs should not be treated as a trophy to show off but as a partner and member of your family.

As told to Rajat Rai

‘Don’t Judge A Pit Bull By One Stray Incident’

Amita Sinha, 38, a homemaker at Greater Noida and a proud Pit Bull parent, counters the demonization of the breed after a freak Lucknow death involving a pet

I was first shocked to read about the horrifying incident in Lucknow where a pet Pit Bull attacked its 83-year old owner, who died due to excessive blood loss and delay in treatment. Even more heart-breaking was the reaction of several dog owners in the city, as reported by the media, that many Pit Bulls in the city were being abandoned by their families after the incident.

I am a Pit Bull parent myself and I can vouch for the breed as one of most trustworthy dogs on this planet. I have a four-year-old girl who plays with my dog Bella all the time. Bella, a Pit Bull, is powerful, energetic but docile and friendly to children around her.

The problem lies not with the Pit Bull but those owners who fail to understand the needs for proper raising of their pets. I often see people getting Pit Bulls as status symbol, one that would instil fear among others. Pit Bull is essentially a guard dog. It fits into this role for its loyalty and muscular build.

Different breeds have different needs. Pit Bulls need to be socialized at an early age. They need to be taught to behave properly in front of children and act gently around them. Unlike Labradors and Golden Retrieves, Pit Bulls and related breeds need more workout every day. They need additional socialisation, more training and better attention during early years. They are very intelligent, and once trained properly, they can even become Nanny Dogs for young children.

Sinha feels a pet owner must act as a responsible parent

Every prospective pet owner needs to understand the breed specifications before adopting one. Pit Bulls need frequent exercise and strenuous workouts for the release of their inward energy. The bottled-up energy could lead to frustration and aggression in their behaviour. If a person is not able to take the dog for a walk every day, it is like forcing the pet into depression.

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We must realise that adopting a dog is a responsibility. It is the owner’s duty to realise the needs to their pets and turn them into social, loving domesticated beings. It’s impossible for a dog to turn aggressive if it has been taken care of its needs properly.

Keeping the dog chained or locked inside a home, like what seemingly happened in the Lucknow case, will not make one a good dog parent. Loving a dog is one thing, understanding their needs is quite another, and more important.

There is a difference between all dog breeds. Let’s not confuse one to another. Pit Bulls are strong guard dogs but can be a fantastic family pet for apartment dwellers. There are a series of videos on social media about training of Pit Bulls. I would advise all Pit Bull parents to watch these and learn the ropes.

Don’t judge the dog breed by a couple of stray incidents; we need to get to the bottom of the problem. Pit Bulls are not status symbol, they loving strong creatures who need attention, training and socialising.

As told to Deepti Sharma