The Maryland House of Delegates yesterday approved a bill that would make it easier to hold all dog owners accountable for injuries caused by their pets — not just those who own pit bulls.
The Washington Post reports that the measure provides “a small measure of victory to pit bull owners,” whose dogs had been singled out by a Maryland court last spring as “inherently dangerous.”
The bill effectively overturns the Maryland Court of Appeals decision, Tracey v. Solesky, which stemmed from a 2007 incident in which a pit bull mauled a 10-year-old Towson boy.
The measure approved by the house Thursday would make it easier to hold all dog owners liable for injuries caused by their pets. In the past, plaintiffs suing the owners of dogs had to prove the dog was dangerous. Now it will be up to dog owners in liability cases to prove in court that their dog is not dangerous.
The 2012 court decision made owners of pit bulls, and their landlords, automatically liable in the event that their dog bit or injured someone.
Animal rights groups protested the appeals court decision, saying it was leading to dogs being euthanized and tenants being forced to surrender their dogs or move. The House bill does not contain breed-specific language.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 22nd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, breed-specific, burden of proof, courts, dangerous, dog bites, dogs, house of delegates, inherent, inherently dangerous, law, lawsuits, legislation, liability, maryland, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls
“They have a reputation for vicious mauling,” he says in the first paragraph of his Monday column, written after serving as a judge in a costume contest that was part of last weekend’s Maryland SPCA March for the Animals.
That makes me wonder — not just about the SPCA’s choice in judges, but whether The Sun has changed its slogan. I’ve been away. Is it “Light for Some” now? “Light for Purebreds?” “Light for erroneous stereotypes?”
First off, if I may shed some light for all, it’s the news media (always so easy to blame) that accounts, in large part, for the pit bull’s undeserved bad reputation — along with fear mongering politicians.
Rodricks further trashes that reputation, calling pit bulls, among other things, “four-legged time bombs” — and at a time when much of the country, with exceptions like the Maryland Court of Appeals, is waking up to how wrong that stereotype is.
“Until they are banned outright, pit bulls should not be allowed in public, and their ownership should bear heavy, legal responsibility,” Rodricks wrote, adding that he was “pleased” with the Maryland Court of Appeals ruling declaring pit bulls and pit bull mixes “inherently dangerous.”
Rodricks talked about his admiration for the Maryland SPCA and its efforts to shelter and find home for dogs. And he praised the annual March for the Animals, saying the spectacle of people walking their pets around Druid Lake was “inspiring — city life at its top.”
If only there weren’t pit bulls in the crowd:
“The pit bulls make it weird … Of course, the pit bulls are all tethered or chained to their owners, and, given the nature of the event, you generally assume that the men and women who participate are responsible and educated pet owners; altruistic, too. Many adopted these animals to provide them a home and train them toward good behavior. They believe mistreatment of the pit bull by ignorant humans is the problem, not the breed itself.”
He then conveys the following misinformation:
“The evidence shows clearly that such attacks are disproportionate to the number of pit bulls in society, that they inflict far more damage than other dogs, and that their attacks are associated with a higher risk of death. Pit bull jaws are three times stronger than those of a German (shepherd).”
The appeals court ruling — delving as it does into pit bull attacks over history, or at least attacks police attributed to pit bulls — “makes clear, if it wasn’t already, that pit bulls are four-legged time bombs,” Rodricks says
As you might expect, Rodricks is now getting the vicious mauling he feared might occur if he got too close to a pit bull — from readers.
You can find their comments here.
(Photo: From TheBullyBreedBlog.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 30th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, baltimore, baltimore sun, ban, breed-specific, breeds, columnist, costume contest, dan rodricks, dangerous, discrimination, dogs, images, inherent, judge, March for the Animals, maryland, maryland court of appeals, maryland spca, news media, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, reputation, restrict, ruling, stereotypes
Ohio Gov. John Kasich yesterday signed a bill that repeals the 25-year-old state law that automatically declared pit bulls vicious.
Once the new law takes effect, in 90 days, shelters will be able to allow them to be adopted, owners will no longer be required to buy additional liability insurance and pit bulls will be free of the restrictions imposed when the state declared them, based on their looks, a public enemy.
House Bill 14 was overwhelmingly approved 67-30 by the state House on Feb. 8.
In addition to dropping any reference to specific breeds, the new law redefines what makes a dog “vicious.”
The old law defined a vicious dog as one that, without provocation, has seriously injured a person, killed another dog, or belongs to the general breed of pit bull.
Dogs so labeled required additional liability insurance, restraints and were subject to other restrictions.
The new law revises the definitions for vicious, as well as the categories of “dangerous” or “nuisance” dogs. It also requires a dog warden to provide proof of why a dog deserves such a classification, and creates a process for dog owners to appeal law enforcement’s labeling of their dogs.
“A well-meaning but poorly conceived law is no more, and it represents a victory for Ohio dogs and their people,” said Gregory Castle, chief executive officer of Best Friends Animal Society, a Utah-based organization that opposes laws that discriminate against certain breeds of dog.
“It ends the practice of causing undue hardship to thousands of responsible owners of entirely friendly, properly supervised, well-socialized pets,” he added.
Best Friends said it hopes that the Florida’s legislature follows suit, and votes to change a similarly archaic law in Miami-Dade County, the only county in Florida where pit bulls are banned.
“The change in Ohio law truly signals a new day for dogs that for years have been discriminated against just because of their looks — the same type of discrimination that’s been going on in Miami-Dade County for years,” said Ledy VanKavage, senior legislative attorney for Best Friends.
Legislation that would repeal the Miami pit bull ban is under consideration in Florida, and recently passed through two more committees.
Florida outlawed canine profiling in 1990, but Miami-Dade County’s 1989 pit bull ban was grandfathered in. Hundreds of dogs and puppies are seized and killed in Miami-Dade every year because of their appearance, Best Friends says.
Ohio was the only state in the country to declare a type of dog vicious, based solely on appearance with no consideration of behavior.
(Photo: A smiling pit bull, from the website Three Little Pitties)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 22nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, automatic, bans, best friends, breed, breed based, breed-specific, breeds, dade county, dangerous, definition, discrimination, dog, dogs, governor, inherent, insurance, john kasich, law, legislation, liability, miami, nuisance, ohio, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, profiling, redefine, repeal, restraints, restrictions, signed, vicious