In most cases of a dog attack, owners are only liable if they had reason to know that their dog was dangerous. But after this opinion, the attack victim only has to show that the dog was a pit bull or even part-pit bull and the owner will be automatically liable.
I read the opinion and am a bit confused why the court didn’t find liability based on vicious propensity considering the dog in question had exhibited vicious tendencies before this attack.
The law resulting from this ruling falls into the category of “breed-specific legislation.” Maryland is not the first state to have such laws and this isn’t even the first law against pit bulls in Maryland — pit bulls are banned in Prince George’s County. Other states have taken different legal approaches, for example requiring pit bull owners to complete a special registration of their animals and prove that they possessed a certain amount of liability insurance.
The American Kennel Club takes the stance that dangerous dog legislation must be nondiscriminatory. Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand why pit bulls are considered dangerous and I feel for anyone who is the victim of a dog attack. I realize it is extremely traumatic and the injuries can be devastating. I don’t have a pit bull myself and do sometimes feel guilty/ hypocritical about having a different type of dog instead of a rescue pit. I didn’t think I’d be able to handle a bigger dog on my own living in the city without a yard.
But I hope I’ll have the resources to adopt larger breeds that need help. There are a lot of great organizations in the Baltimore area helping pits, such as BARCS, and I don’t think people need any disincentive to help this breed that desperately needs our help.
Check out this website if you want more information on the problems with breed-specific legislation.