The pit bull breed has a bad reputation. Some say this is deserved, that pits are an inherently dangerous animal, bred to kill, as evidenced by the many attacks that we see on the news on a seemingly regular basis. Others believe pit bull dogs are cuddly sweethearts that treat people as they are treated. Still more remain on the fence, in neutral territory, and are of the opinion that each dog, no matter the breed, has a unique personality and will, according to temperament and experience, be docile, aggressive, or somewhere in the middle.
The Maryland House and Senate have recently passed bills, HB 73 and SB 247 respectively, which overturns their former law claiming that all pit bulls are inherently dangerous. The 2012 ruling of Tracey v. Solesky maintained that all pit bulls and pit bull mixes were dangerous. The law not only held the owner responsible for an attack, but also the owners’ landlords. The Huffington Post reports that Tracey v. Solesky caused many owners to surrender their pit bulls to shelters for fear of losing their homes. A pet parent should not have to make that kind of heartrending decision simply based on their animal’s breed.
Pit Bull owners in Maryland are surely rejoicing this new turn of events. The HB 73 bill still holds dog owners responsible for any injury caused by their pet, but it includes any type of dog, and is not specific to pit bulls. Landlords will be liable only if they knew, or should have known, that the particular animal in question was dangerous.
Eric Vocke, a pit bull advocate, says, “It’s liberation for dog owners. It gives us an equal footing with the rest of the breeds and we’re not locked down for owning these dogs.”
Washington Humane Society president, Lisa LaFontaine, has this to say: “Breed Specific Legislation has consistently failed in communities around the world. It has no quantifiable impact on a decrease in dog bites or an increase in public safety. At the Washington Humane Society we have successfully changed the perspective of pit bull type dogs in our communities and our policies, and we are pleased to see Maryland follow suit.”
Other states have also been overturning their laws restricting ownership of pit bull and pit bull mixes. This is possibly due to the outspokenness of the Center of Disease Control, President Obama, and the American Veterinary Medicine Association against pit bull specific legislation.
Do you love your pit bull? On May 3 of this year a One Million Pibble March On Washington DC will take place to support the pit bull breed. You can visit this website for details.
So, are these dogs “inherently dangerous”, sweet teddy bears, or do you hold out that each pit bull is unique? We want to hear your thoughts.
[Image courtesy of Mike Heller; retrieved from HD Wallpapers]