Two alerts for Maryland residents:
HB 73 would effectively repeal the 2012 Maryland Court of Appeals ruling. The bill is currently in the House Judiciary Committee:http://blessthebullys.wordpress.com/201 ... -on-12314/
HB 422 would prohibit breed specific ordinances in Maryland. A hearing is set for Feb. 20 in the House Judiciary Committee. http://blessthebullys.wordpress.com/201 ... -maryland/
Legislature trying again to unlabel 'inherently dangerous' pit bulls
Monday, February 3, 2014 2:00 am
Two years have passed since an unfortunate ruling by the Maryland Court of Appeals designating pit bulls as “inherently dangerous” sent tremors through the community of pit-bull owners.
Not only did that ruling — the result of an opinion in the Tracey v. Solesky case, in which a 10-year-old boy was badly injured in an attack — characterize pits unfairly as ticking time bombs, it made the state’s landlords as liable as owners for damages should a renter’s dog attack anyone on their premises.
“When an attack involves pit bulls,” reads the 2012 opinion by Judge Dale R. Cathell, “it is no longer necessary to prove that the particular pit bull or pit bulls are dangerous.”
This new aspect of the law failed to account for what makes a dog breed — any breed — dangerous in the first place: That’s the owner’s responsibility, either through irresponsible neglect, mistreatment or intentional training.
As we discussed in a May 2012 editorial, targeting a specific breed for regulation is narrow-minded and out of all proportion to the severity of the problem.
“We have so many pits here and there are obviously good and bad dogs, just like any breed,” Ali Newman, of the Anne Arundel County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told The (Annapolis) Capital. “But for the most part, they’re very lovable dogs.”
The appeals court opinion was an unbelievably shortsighted, broad-brush ruling that seemed to rely on a popular myth about the pit bull breed rather than sound science or a factual analysis. Ramifications quickly followed as landlords handed down ultimatums to their lessees: Lose the dogs or lose your homes.
Animal shelters felt the strain as they began to fill up with dogs whose owners were forced to give them up. The Humane Society estimates that about 70,000 Marylanders have pit bull-type dogs.
Pit-bull proponents scrambled unsuccessfully in the last session to have the Maryland General Assembly pass legislation to overturn the ruling. A bill passed the Senate but was hung up at the last minute in the House.
Proponents are getting a second shot with a bill filed by Delegate Luis Simmons and Sen. Brian Frosh, both Montgomery County Democrats. The legislation creates a “rebuttable presumption” in all dog-bite cases for all breeds. The presumption is that an owner knew or should have known his or her dog was dangerous. The owner can then rebut this assertion with testimony or evidence to the contrary. A jury, not a summary judgment of the judge, would decide whether or not the owner was aware of the danger.
It was a bill similar to this one that failed to pass the Legislature last year. Once again, it seems the bill is more likely to pass the Senate than the House. It’s a shame. We’re not sure what the reluctance is from House lawmakers to correct such an ill-thought-out precedent handed down from the Court of Appeals.
Had the appeals court created a tax loophole for dog owners, you can bet a majority of the state house would have patched that hole the day after the ruling. The brains in Annapolis should be able to come up with a fix.http://www.fredericknewspost.com/your_l ... 0bd00.html