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The HSUS Reacts to Md. Court of Appeals Motion for Reconsideration in Pit Bull Decision

Baltimore cooperative tells residents to get rid of the dogs immediately

The Humane Society of the United States reacted with dismay to the Maryland Court of Appeals decision on a motion for reconsideration in the controversial case on pit bull type dogs. 

“This is a sad day for Maryland dogs and public safety,” said Tami Santelli, Maryland senior state director for The HSUS. “With the failure of the General Assembly to remedy the situation last week during their special session, Marylanders are now exposed to the full consequences of the court decision. Families will now have to make an agonizing choice between losing their homes or their beloved family pets.”

In its decision the Court affirmed most of the original ruling, but limited its application to “purebred pit bull” dogs. However, singling out a particular breed or type of dog has been proven repeatedly not to be effective because breed alone is not predictive of whether a dog may pose a danger. A dog’s propensity to bite is a product of several factors including early socialization, a dog’s living conditions and the owner’s behavior. For example, chained dogs and non-neutered dogs are much more likely to bite.

Also today, a major Baltimore housing cooperative, Armistead Gardens, notified its residents that pit bull type dogs and mixes are banned immediately. Armistead Gardens is a community of 1,500 homes in northeast Baltimore. Many of the residents are reported to own pit bull type dogs. An Armistead Gardens spokesperson confirmed to The HSUS that it had issued the notification to residents.

The Court’s decision on rehearing may provide limited relief to owners of mixed breed dogs, which will no longer be considered inherently dangerous in Maryland. Such dogs will be subject to the same liability rules as all other dogs. The HSUS is urging owners of any mixed breed pit bull type dog in Maryland to obtain veterinary or other documentation of their dog, and to provide such evidence to their landlord or rental agency to avoid any confusion. 

Emergency legislation to address the impacts of the Tracey v. Solesky decision failed last week during a 4-day special session of the General Assembly. The issue had been placed on the agenda after a huge public outcry prompted the creation of a joint legislative task force to study the case and propose legislation. Lawmakers nearly unanimously agreed that singling out a particular breed is bad public policy, and that landlords and other third parties should not be held strictly liable, but differed on the legal standard for dog owners. In the last hours of the special session, leaders in the House and Senate were unable to agree even on stop-gap legislation that would have given temporary relief to thousands of Maryland families, businesses and dogs.

The HSUS will work with Maryland animal shelters and rescues to support them as they brace for an expected influx of dogs as a result of the court’s decision. The HSUS has a compilation of materials for impacted Maryland residents available at humanesociety.org/protectmddogs.

Media Contact: Raúl Arce-Contreras; 301-721-6440; rcontreras@humanesociety.org

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