Maryland, Overturn Your Dangerous Pit Bull Rule

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

Before this ruling, all dogs had to bite once before being considered 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 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 ruling has caused a lot of upset. Owners are now worried that they will lose their homes, or won't be able to move because of discrimination, while rescues and shelters are concerned about more pit bulls and pit mixes being abandoned and relinquished and that they will not be able to adopt them out because no one will want to assume the liability, which will lead to killing more innocent dogs.

Declaring a breed dangerous based solely on its looks with no regard for their actual disposition  is not an effective approach in regards to controlling dogs’ behaviors within a community or improving safety. Please sign this petition asking Governor Martin O'Malley to introduce legislation to overturn this decision.

As a dog lover and animal advocate I was incredibly disappointed to learn about the recent Court of Appeals decision declaring pit bulls and pit bull mixes inherently dangerous in Maryland.

Statistics don't back up the claim that any one breed is more dangerous than another and unfairly targets responsible owners who love their dogs and, of course, well behaved dogs.

The American Temperament Testing Society (ATTS), an organization that promotes uniform temperament testing, tested the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier, who all scored above 84.2%, which is incidentally about the same as the ever so popular family dog the Golden Retriever, who received 85.2%.

This ruling could potentially leave people without a place to live, or unable to move because of discrimination, in addition to leaving rescues and shelters to deal with more pit bulls and pit mixes being abandoned and relinquished that they will not be able to adopt out because of the the liability issues, which will lead to killing more innocent dogs.

In addition to the problems with misidentification, targeting a specific breed does nothing to promote safety within a community. Responsible breeding and prevention of abuse go a long way in keeping communities happy and safe.

I hope you will introduce legislation that will overturn this decision 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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