Pit Bull owners are furious over a new ruling that declares that their dogs are “inherently dangerous.” The Maryland Court of Appeals ruling also states that a pit bull owner, or a landlord who rents to a person who owns a pit bull, is now liable for any damages caused by their dogs.
The Washington Post reports that the ruling stems from a 2009 incident that saw a 4-year-old boy mauled by a pit bull. The boy survived but suffered severe damage to his face.
Pit bulls are already outlawed in some parts of Maryland. The new ruling, however, makes ownership of a pit bull a liability risk anywhere in the state.
Reuters reports that dog owners are usually given “one free bite” before they are held liable. Meaning, a dog owner is typically held liable if they knew that the dog was potentially dangerous. For pit bull owners the “one free bite” rule no longer applies.
The Maryland SPCA, which arranges pet adoptions, said that the new ruling was unfair since it targeted an entire breed.
The SPCA said:
“We believe that an animal’s behavior should be the determining factor in whether or not the animal is considered dangerous… We don’t believe that a particular breed should be pinpointed for that.”
Rodney Taylor, of Prince George’s County Animal Management, added:
“All dogs, if you don’t train them and show them love, can turn out to be mean animals. It has a lot to do with the owner and how you raise the pet.”
The Washington Post reports that the new ruling could cause trouble for landlords and pet adoption agencies. Landlords with pit bull tenants will have to decide if its worth the risk to allow a pit bull to stay in their building and adoption agencies say that the new rule will discourage people from adopting pit bulls.
Animal advocacy groups have already started petitions to “Stop Pit Bull Discrimination in Maryland.”
Do you think pit bulls are “inherently dangerous?”