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.
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.