A new ruling makes it easier for anyone attacked by a pit bull or pit bull mix in Maryland to take legal action against the dog's owner.
The Maryland Court of Appeals ruling declares pit bulls as a breed are "inherently dangerous," and the owner of a pit bull or a cross-bred pit that attacks is strictly liable for damages, as is any landlord who rents to a pit bull owner.
The Maryland SPCA, which arranges adoptions for dogs that need homes, currently has three pit bulls under its care: a five-month-old Brutus is scheduled to be adopted this week, Ayoki is available and Valentina will be put up for adoption soon. But the SPCA is concerned that it may be harder to find adoptive homes and families may abandon pit bulls after the recent ruling.
“We believe that an animal’s behavior should be the determining factor in whether or not the animal is considered dangerous,” said Cheryl Bernard Smith, of SPCA. “We don't believe that a particular breed should be pinpointed for that."
"All dogs, if you don't train them and show them love, can turn out to be mean animals,” said Rodney Taylor, of Prince George’s County Animal Management. “It has a lot to do with the owner and how you raise the pet."
The Maryland Court of Appeals decision dealt with the case of a young boy who suffered life-threatening injuries when he was attacked by a pit bull.
Pit bulls are banned in Prince George's County.
"Back in 1997 they passed a law saying you could not own or harbor a pit bull or a pit bull mix in Prince George's County,” Taylor said. “If you happen to have one or are caught with one you could be arrested. It does carry six months in prison and a $1,000 fine for having one."
Now the law finds pit bull owners throughout Maryland absolutely accountable for the behavior of their dogs.
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