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Pit Bulls Declared “Inherently Dangerous” in Maryland

Pit Bulls Declared “Inherently Dangerous” in Maryland

A recent ruling by the Maryland Court of Appeals has declared pit bulls and pit mixes inherently dangerous and has left animal advocates and pit bull supporters worried about the future ramifications of the decision for pit bulls and their owners.

The ruling came as a result of an attack on 10-year-old Dominic Solesky in 2007, whose family sued the dog owners landlord, Dorothy M. Tracey in Tracey v. Solesky. The Circuit court threw the case out with the opinion that there was no evidence to prove Tracey had been negligent, but the Court of Appeals overturned the decision.

Judge Clayton Greene Jr., disagreed with the ruling and wrote that “There is no evidence to support the proposition that pit bulls or pit bull mixed-breeds are inherently dangerous” in a dissenting opinion, adding that “It appears that the media has demonized pit bulls as gruesome fighting dogs and has not revealed the long history of pit bulls as family dogs with passive behaviors.”

Before this ruling all dogs had to bite once before being declared dangerous and victims of an attack who wanted to file a lawsuit had to prove that the dog’s owner or landlord knew the dog had a history of being dangerous. Now, anyone who wants to sue will only need to prove that owners and landlords knew the dog was a pit bull or a pit mix and they will be financially responsible for injuries.

The decision has left many understandably upset. Owners worry that they’ll be out a place to live, or that it will be impossible to move thanks to the potential for discrimination and rescues and shelters are concerned about people abandoning and relinquishing more dogs that they won’t be able to adopt out because of liability they will now come with, which will lead to killing more innocent dogs, while yet others argue against the plain stupidity of targeting a specific breed and they are speaking out.

“This will not make a community safer,” said Pauline Houliaras, president of B-More Dog, which was formed to fight anti-pit bull legislation, who noted that you can’t identify a breed based on its appearance alone. You can take the test yourself and try to pick the right one here and here.

The group is now collecting pictures of families with their pit bulls to show legislators that these dogs are “cherished members of the family and shouldn’t be discriminated against.” On Sunday, there will even be a “Pit Bulls on Parade” event in Baltimore, which will feature both pit bulls and their families and pit bulls who are looking for their forever homes.

Advocates also lobbied Governor Martin O’Malley to introduce legislation that would overturn the decision during last weeks General Assembly session last week with no luck. However, according to Maryland Votes for Animals, Speaker Busch and Senate President Mike Miller were both interested in putting legislation on the agenda for the possible 2nd Special Session that could occur in July, but a spokesperson for the governor said it would not appear on that agenda.

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Please sign and share the petition asking Governor Martin O’Malley to stop unfair discrimination and instead focus on promoting humane animal care, tougher laws for animal abusers and education for the public on how to avoid dog bites.

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260 comments

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7:51AM PST on Feb 28, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

2:22PM PST on Feb 27, 2013

We have the same issue in utah. This discrimination of different types of dogs goes on everywhere. It needs to stop!!!! But will it? I have two pit-bulls one a mix. They were both picked up from the side of busy roads before they were hit; they were both little puppies. One is a mix with boxer. They both are the biggest, cuddly babies you would ever want to meet. And both think they are still lap dogs; I keep trying to explain to the one that is about 110 or 20 pounds that he is a little heavy to be I my lap but I'm sure you know what he thinks about that. They bring great joy. When I look into their faces I'm just glad that they were picked you by us instead of the people that promote dog fighting in this state!! Not much but at least it was two.

6:50AM PDT on Oct 20, 2012

Lack of info makes people afraid of pit bulls.

7:47PM PDT on Aug 23, 2012

@Jane K: As a vet, I am saddened that you would support such discrimination. It is incredibly disheartening to hear these disturbing myths perpetuated by those who should be defending all creatures. What about GSD, Rotts, pit mixes, mastiffs...? What about the 250+ dogs listed throughout the country on various 'dangerous dog' lists, including Goldens and Labs? When in doubt, dogs can be temperment tested. Don't perpetuate myths. Before we know it, the only dog allowed by the state will be poodles with their teeth removed.

7:43PM PDT on Aug 23, 2012

@Maribeth H: I understand your concerns, but please understand, that ANY breed of dog can be made to be vicious. The media tends to sensationalize pit bull attacks because they often are the victims of evil owners who use them for fighting and mistreat them. Many of former fighting dogs have been rehabilitated into therapy dogs (See Michael Vick's former dogs). No dog should be judged by breed, but by deed. All too often, dogs that "look" like 'dangerous' breeds end up the victims of BSL, as in the case of Lennox in Belfast, who was not a pit. Gentle family dogs have been ripped from their homes and put down all due to BSL. It is discrimination at its worst. If you check legislation on BSL around the country, 250+ breeds are listed as 'dangerous' in some places, including Goldens and Labs!! Be careful what you allow, they may come for your beloved family dog next!

12:38PM PDT on Jul 28, 2012

this is beyond stupid the dogs are not inherently dangerous what a prejudicial point of view maryland is full of bigots!!! the dogs are not the problem the humans are!!!!

12:38PM PDT on Jul 28, 2012

this is beyond stupid the dogs are not inherently dangerous what a prejudicial point of view maryland is full of bigots!!! the dogs are not the problem the humans are!!!!

7:12AM PDT on Jul 28, 2012

Any dog has the capability of harming, not just pit bulls. Breed specific legislation is faulty. I partially agree with what the vet said, it is not just the owners at fault, some dogs are genetically predisposed to be bad. Dogs have instincts and those primal instincts can be brought out by the smell of blood, going into pack mode or a hormone imbalance and no amount of training can cure instincts. Some of the worst attacks on humans I have seen were from small dogs.

12:16PM PDT on Jul 22, 2012

I'm of two minds about this. While it shouldn't be right to paint with one brush all pit bulls, I am troubled by the attacks of pit bulls that we hear about every year, and not just by pit bulls who have been trained to be aggressive, but by family pets who never showed any negative behavior at all. I have volunteered at a humane society where all staff members claimed that if they were to get another dog it would be a pit bull and that these dogs are sweet and loving. While I don't believe that they are all aggressive, neither do I believe that they are all sweet and loving. That's the problem. How are we going to know which individual pit bull is aggressive or sweet and loving? After one bite? But that bite might be around the neck of a baby.

2:35PM PDT on Jul 19, 2012

Pit bulls are not mean. People make them mean. People are mean because people make people mean, how about getting rid of them? instead of the dogs?

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