“He will lick you to death though. He will lick you to death.”
Said an owner of a pit bull during a rally to protest Maryland’s recent court decision on pit bulls.
In case you hadn’t heard, a recent court opinion holds all pit bulls and pit bull crossbreeds are “inherently dangerous.” One blog explains:
The majority decision singles out pit bulls and declares them all dangerous. It implies that owners of them, and the landlords who rent to those owners, should ignorantly assume, as the judges did, that they are lethal and unpredictable beasts. And it makes suing their owners much easier.
Under previous case law, a victim intending to file a lawsuit after a dog attack had to prove that a dog’s owner, or landlord, knew it had a history of being dangerous. Now, under this new precedent, they can merely show that the owner knew their dog was all or part pit bull. That would be sufficient basis for a claim.
It is not so easy figure out what is and is not a pit bull. Lots of different dogs look like pit bulls, but not all of them are truly pit bulls.
So, this decision makes it hard for dog owners, landlords and shelters to figure out what they should do. And since the change in the law was made by the Court and not the legislature, there won’t be any regulations issued alongside it to help clarify the situation.
What are the real world repercussions of the pit bull ruling? Insurance will be more expensive, landlords will start to ban pit bulls and possibly all dogs to avoid costly insurance and future liability, pit bull owners will have a difficult time finding housing and will start dumping their dogs at shelters, no one will want to adopt the abandoned pit bulls, and dogs — who have done nothing wrong — will be put down for no reason.
Photo credit: MKD