The Centre on Tuesday asked states to ban the import, breeding and sale of “ferocious” dog breeds such as pitbulls, rottweilers and mastiffs in the wake of a number of fatal attacks on humans by dogs.

The Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying said it received representations from citizen’s forums and animal rights groups requesting the ban. It also said that the Delhi High Court has told the Centre to respond to a writ petition seeking a ban on certain canine breeds.

After the High Court directive, the ministry set up a committee led by the animal husbandry commissioner and comprising experts from various stakeholder groups, which recommended banning several dog breeds in the country.

The animal husbandry ministry on Tuesday urged local bodies and state animal husbandry departments not to issue any licences for the sale, breeding and keeping of these breeds. Dogs that have already been kept as pets should be sterilised to prevent further breeding, a letter by the ministry to state governments said.