Chennai rottweiler attack: Residents say not the first incident

The rottweiler dogs that attacked a child, have previously tried to attack another man and have killed a stray dog and a chicken in the past due to the owners’ negligence.
Chennai rottweiler attack: Residents say not the first incident
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Panic gripped the residents of Chennai’s Nungambakkam after a 5-year-old girl was attacked by two rottweiler dogs (classified as an aggressive breed) on Sunday, May 5. Residents who witnessed the attack and helped in rescuing the child told TNM that such attacks on both people and animals by the two rottweilers have been recurring since 2021 and suspected the owners to be breeders. 

At the Greater Chennai Corporation park, located on the fourth lane in Nungambakkam, a 5-year-old girl named Suraksha – the daughter of the park’s security guard – was attacked by the dogs from a house located right opposite to the park on Sunday. Suraksha and her mother Sonia live in the small room dedicated for the security personnel. 

Around 6 pm on Sunday, the rottweiler dogs were let out by the owners without a leash. The dogs charged into the park and attacked the child. When the mother tried to save her, she was attacked too, said Madhan, a neighbour, who rescued both of them. “The security guard had gone to his hometown so when I heard the lady scream, I ran to help them. I first rescued the child and then the mother from the aggressive dogs. The owner himself got scared and fled the scene,” Madhan told TNM. 

While both Suraksha and Sonia were rushed to Royapettah Government Hospital for treatment, the child who had sustained severe injuries to her head and neck, needed to be shifted to a private hospital for treatment. Greater Chennai Corporation Commissioner J Radhakrishnan told the media that Sudaksha requires a plastic surgery and that it has been scheduled for Thursday, May 9, provided her condition stabilises and her rabies test results are checked.

Series of similar incidents

Kamlesh Das, a Bihar native who works at a private shop located right next to the park where the attack took place, was one of the people who narrowly escaped the rottweilers’ attack in 2021. He said that both the dogs were let out on the roads due to the owners’ negligence. “I was walking towards the shop on February 8, 2021, and suddenly the gate of the house opened and both the dogs charged at me. I immediately jumped on top of the compound wall in fear,” Kamlesh said and showed TNM the CCTV footage from that day. “I had told the owners then to not be so negligent but they didn’t care,” he added. 

Manjula, a resident, who rushed Suraksha and her mother to the hospital on Sunday, told TNM that the dogs had earlier hunted a chicken when they were let loose and had also attacked a stray dog that later died. “It was purely negligence on the part of the owners. Despite us warning them, despite so many people having complained, they continued to let the dogs roam around without a leash. There are children in my house as well and we were constantly concerned,” she added.

Neighbours who TNM spoke to also alleged that the owners were breeding rottweilers. “One of the dogs was a male and the other, a female. The owners often sell puppies and once we learnt that they sell the puppies for Rs 20,000 or Rs 30,000. So, it seemed like they were using the dogs only for money. The owners themselves were scared when the incident took place and were running,” Moideen, a neighbour, told TNM. 

The Thousand Lights police registered a case and arrested the owners — couple – Pugalendi and Dhanalakshmi – along with their son Venkateswaran, under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 289 (negligent conduct with respect to animals) and 336 (act of endangering the lives and personal safety of others). J Radhakrishnan confirmed that the owners hadn’t obtained the required licence from the GCC for owning rottweilers. However, the family was let out on station bail and they have reportedly shifted to their house in Madurai along with the dogs.

In March, the Union government directed states to prohibit the sale and breeding of 23 breeds of aggressive dogs, including Pitbull Terrier, American Bulldog, Rottweiler, and Mastiffs. The directive also mandated the sterilisation of existing pets belonging to these breeds. However, the Madras High Court had ordered an interim stay on the ban. 

Radhakrishnan said that the corporation will push to create more awareness among pet owners to obtain a licence. The corporation also revised its rules regarding pet animals which has made obtaining licences to be obligatory. The rules also mandate pets to be leashed and muzzled when being walked in parks, and have stated that a pet owner can only bring one pet at a time to a park. 

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