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Aggressive or Triggered?: The Curious Case of Lucknow’s Pit Bull Attack

The Quint spoke to experts and veterinarians who emphasised on the owner's role in moulding a pit bull’s behaviour.

On 12 July, an 82-year-old woman in Lucknow was bit by her pet pit bull, a mid-sized female dog, named Brownie. Denied treatment at the first hospital that Sushila Tripathi was rushed to, she was "conscious" at the second hospital she was taken to, as per her son Amit.

A few hours later, however, Tripathi succumbed to her injuries. In a video that emerged two days later, Amit was seen carrying Brownie towards a van, which took the dog to an animal shelter. He told reporters that his decision to single-handedly carry his pet to the van was to show everyone that his pet "is not aggressive."

The incident reignited the debate on whether some dogs, especially pit bulls, are inherently too dangerous to be a pet.

In February this year, two pet pit bulls mauled their 40-year-old owner to death in Haryana’s Yamunanagar; and the same month, an American Bully dog attacked and injured a six-year-old child in Gurugram.

While most reported cases attribute attacks to a ‘violent’ or ‘aggressive’ dogs, The Quint spoke to dog behavioural experts, veterinarians, trainers and breeders that emphasised on the role an owner plays in moulding their pit bull’s behaviour, temperament and actions.

They laid importance on the role played by training (or the lack of) and said that the responsibility of the animals lies solely with the owner. The piece attempts to navigate how pet owners and the care provided by them can shape the behaviour of their pets.

The Incident in Lucknow

The Quint spoke to renowned dog trainer and founder of India’s flagship K9 School Adnaan Khan, who pointed out that it is not the breed but the lack of discipline and exercise provided to the animal which can possibly lead to such incidents. “The presence of neglect towards the pit bull, if any, leads to further complications,” he said.

Sushila’s family said that their dog Brownie attacked her in the courtyard. Her bereaved son Amit told Aaj Tak that the dog was usually “triggered by doorbells.” He had said, “Since I was not home… It’s just my guess that someone rang the doorbell and Brownie got triggered. My mother used to take care of its meals and other routine things.” The family has a female Labrador too, and Brownie the pit bull spent most of its time on their terrace.

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