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House speaker says pit bull ruling should be discussed

House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel (Photo: Maryland State Archives)

The presiding officer of the House of Delegates said the General Assembly should do something about a recent Court of Appeals ruling that calls pit bulls inherently dangerous.

The ruling makes owners and landlords automatically liable if a pit bull bites or otherwise attacks someone.

But Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel, thinks the ruling goes too far.

“I don’t think you can take breeds of animals and selectively keep them from being pets,” Busch said. “Then, once you start that list where do you go next? Rottweilers? German shepherds? Doberman pinschers?

“I think, hopefully, that we will resolve that when we come back into session.”

Busch, however, did not say whether that meant the matter could be addressed when the legislature is called back for a second special session later this summer.

Gov. Martin O’Malley said that session — which could take place as soon as July — would be focused on expanding gambling in Maryland. But the governor left open whether other issues could also be discussed.

Busch, for his part, seemed to echo the sentiment of several state lawmakers — including Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert and Prince George’s — who felt the issue deserved consideration.

“I think that it’s something needs to be addressed,” Busch said.


  1. Look for the money. Any loving human will actually study the statistics and the medical evidence of pitbull attacks which are horrific even when the victim survives.
    For sociopaths with pitbulls, this is okay…does he belong with them?

  2. The relevant issue as regards dog attacks is actuarial risk: the amount of damage done. Since 1982 I have tracked fatal & disfiguring attacks, the category at the top of the actuarial risk charts, amounting to approximately one biting incident in 10,000. These are the worst of the worst. In this category, the molosser (“butcher’s dog”) breeds, including pit bulls and all of their lookalikes, among them pit bulls, Rottweilers, Presa Canarios, Cane Corsos, mastiffs, Dogo Argentinos, Fila Brasieros, boxers, and their mixes, have accounted for 78% of the dogs involved, 73% of the child victims, 85% of the adult victims, 68% of the fatalities, and 78% of the disfigurements. Together these breeds are 4.6% of the U.S. dog population. About two-thirds of the dogs in the molosser category are pit bulls, who are at the very top of the risk chart, but the entire molosser category is about 10 times more likely to inflict a fatality or disfigurement than the average dog.