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  1. #1

    Pit bulls: Own them at your own risk (An Editorial by Dan Rodricks)

    Pit bulls: Own them at your own risk
    The Maryland Court of Appeals declares what should have been obvious to all by now – these dogs are inherently dangerous
    Dan Rodricks

    10:02 a.m. EDT, April 30, 2012
    The first entry in Sunday's costume contest at the 17th annual March for the Animals was a pit bull dressed as Batman. I was on a wooden stage with the other contest judges, about four feet off the ground at Druid Hill Park. That distance from the dog suited me. When I see pit bulls, even those in charming costume, I stay clear. They have a reputation for vicious mauling, and I'd rather avoid one.

    Still, I awarded eight out of 10 possible points to the beefy pit bull in the Batman cape. I was generous in an effort to overcompensate for my bias: Until they are banned outright, pit bulls should not be allowed in public, and their ownership should bear heavy, legal responsibility. I was pleased to read last week's ruling by the Maryland Court of Appeals declaring them inherently dangerous.

    I admire the Maryland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for all its efforts to rescue, train and find homes for dogs and cats that are abused or abandoned. The March for the Animals is a great event; the sight of hundreds of dog owners strolling with their pets around Druid Lake on a crisp spring morning is inspiring — city life at its top. And the pet costume and pet tricks contests are amusing to watch and to judge, the entries often hilarious.

    But the pit bulls make it weird; there are several of them at the March, among many families with small children.

    Of course, the pit bulls are all tethered or chained to their owners, and, given the nature of the event, you generally $#@!ume 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.

    But the Maryland Court of Appeals holds quite a different view.

    "When an attack involves pit bulls, it is no longer necessary to prove that the particular pit bull or pit bulls are dangerous," the court ruled last week in a case stemming from a 2007 attack on a Towson boy. Previously, a plaintiff in a negligence lawsuit had to show that the attacking dog had a record of aggressive behavior. Now, it's sufficient to say that the attack was by a pit bull. It doesn't matter if the dog had no priors.

    The opinion is bloody with examples of pit bull attacks, as far back as 1916, in Maryland and elsewhere. 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 $#@!ociated with a higher risk of death. Pit bull jaws are three times stronger than those of a German Shepard.

    Among many reports cited in the opinion is one from the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical $#@!ociation. It found that, from 1979 through 1996, dog attacks resulted in more than 300 fatalities in the U.S.; most of the victims were children. During part of that time, 1981 through 1992, "pit bull-type dogs" were involved in approximately a third of the deaths.

    The court noted that 12 states already have taken some form of action to make owners and landlords responsible for pit bull attacks. Some jurisdictions, includingPrince George's County, banned the breed. The Albuquerque Humane Society in New Mexico does not take pit bulls "because of their potential for attacks on other animals and people."

    Aileen Gabbey, its executive director, told me that the Maryland SPCA had no plans to stop accepting, training, neutering and adopting out pit bulls, though she acknowledged that "everyone is talking to their lawyers" about the Court of Appeals ruling. She disagreed with it, saying the court had painted pit bulls with too broad a brush. The pits bulls she sees are "victims — abused, forced to fight, given up."

    That's admirable altruism — the desire to be humane to mistreated animals, even those $#@!ociated with vicious mauling. But the SPCA and all others inclined to rescue pit bulls ought to read the court ruling. It makes clear, if it wasn't already, that pit bulls are four-legged time bombs. You live with them, you live with risk — and, as it should be, you take on serious liability for the suffering of others.

    Dan Rodricks' column appears each Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. He is the host of Midday on WYPR-FM. His email is dan.rodricks@baltsun.com.

    Pit bulls: Own them at our own risk - baltimoresun.com

  2. #2
    someone needs to set this guy strait OMG I have only read 3 paragraphs and I am fuming!

  3. #3
    I am so tired of reading $#@! like this. When will people open their eyes?

    It makes clear, if it wasn't already, that pit bulls are four-legged time bombs.


    I am about to turn into a two legged time bomb!

  4. #4
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    Here is a link to a petition. Please sign it and p$#@! it around guys!

    Petition: The Governor of MD: Do not Discriminate Against Pit Bulls in Maryland | Change.org

  5. #5
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    What a jack$#@!

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    I wish all this crap found on the internet could some how be buried under real facts. This writer and the rest of them....I don't understand why they don't just read a reputable book found at the library or book store about APBT's, SBT's, etc. and write a true, factual article.

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    This kind of stuff makes me SO angry! the nerve of some people! UGH

  8. #8
    What a $#@!ing idiot. >.<

    Quote Originally Posted by Kasey View Post
    Here is a link to a petition. Please sign it and p$#@! it around guys!

    Petition: The Governor of MD: Do not Discriminate Against Pit Bulls in Maryland | Change.org


    I was going to sign it, but I couldn't get past all the spelling errors in the "About this Petition" paragraph. Come on people!

  9. #9
    My email response to the puke. I just got off a 12 hr overnight shift, so bear with me!! :)

    I wanted to seriously puke when I read your article in the Sun. Here are some links to help set you straight about "pit bulls," (NOT a breed!!!) bite statistics, and the role the media plays in ruining the breeds' reputation:


    http://nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/


    http://nationalcanineresearchcouncil...ter/dog-bites/



    2010's dog bite fatality statistics:
    http://nationalcanineresearchcouncil...%20FINAL_1.pdf
    Note how accurate the media really is.


    Can you find the pit bull? See the problem?? Do you think owners, vets, police, shelter workers, etc. have any more skill than you do?
    http://www.understand-a-bull.com/Fin...itbull_v3.html


    And until courts can actually define an American Pit Bull Terrier, an American Staffordshire Terrier, and all the other "Pit Bull" breeds.. how are they going to be able to ban them?


    As far as the percentage of pit bulls out there.. they are basing the amount of pit bulls out in the world on the American Pit Bull Terriers registered with the UKC... whereas the CDC's report simply states "pit bull TYPE dogs" as the "breed." So out of the 15 or so breeds that resemble American Pit Bull Terriers, and all the mixes out there... they only estimate the US's pit bull population using the limited number of "pit bulls" who are registered. How is that fair?


    It's not fair.


    I own a UKC American Pit Bull Terrier who is a Grand Champion show dog, a United Weight Puller, a United Rally Obedience 1 dog, a United Novice Jumper (dock jumping), who has her Coursing Aptitude, her Canine Good Citizen, AND is an active therapy dog..... and oh, right. Let's not forget the "ticking time bomb" part. They're NOT special dogs. They are the same as other breeds, only with higher exercise requirements.


    I worked as an Animal Control Officer for 4 years, dealing with bite cases, rabid animals, and loose/ aggro dogs (among other things). I picked up Pit Bull mixes who had just been hit by a car or torn up from a dog fight or beating, and they always had a wag and a lick for me. The WORST bite I'd seen the whole 4 years was by a chocolate Labrador Retriever, who nearly ripped a 7 year old girl's throat out. She almost died. It can happen with ANY breed.


    Before you show your support for the Judge who ruled on that case... perhaps you ought to consider all the pets that will die because their owners think they just MIGHT be a pit bull, and their landlords are making them get rid of their pet. Or the droves that will be turned loose or abandoned because of it. Think if you would rather have a healthy, happy, loved population of pit bulls, or a downtrodden, beaten, neglected one.


    That is all.

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    This is exactly the type of garbage that further fuels the fire. I don't wish harm on anyone, however, this is the type of guy who will get seriously injured by a black lab in the future.

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    http://btoellner.typepad.com/kcdogbl...gsbiteorg.html

    This a link to
    The Truth Behind Dogdbite.org by
    KC DOG BLOG
    Unofficial Watchdog on Animal Welfare Issues


    Great read! I posted it on the thread Have you seen this? It is appropriate for this thread as well.

  12. #12
    I hate to be the party pooper here, but this isn't legislation, it is case law. This has nothing to do with passing bills or ordinances. This has nothing to do with the governor.

    You can petition and write all you want, but there's nothing that can "veto" this.

    The reason that this case was ruled the way it was was because the victim's parents were unable to sue the owners of the dog successfully, so they went after the landlord. In deciding in this manner, it now makes landlords responsible for the actions of their tenent's dogs.

    The fact of the matter is Maryland is one of a very few number of states in this country that does not already impart strict liability on cases of dog bites. Current Maryland law gives owners of 'dangerous' dogs a "1 free bite" policy. Strict liability places more responsibility on owners as there are NO free bites. The fact that the court ruled that strict liability is now only going to be enforced on 'pit bulls and mixes' is kind of stupid and that this includes landlords is just going to $#@! everything up for everyone.

    But.

    You can't petition this away. Sorry.

    The only way this goes away is if a HIGHER court decides in another manner and makes THAT ruling the precedence.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by LilianaLove View Post
    I hate to be the party pooper here, but this isn't legislation, it is case law. This has nothing to do with passing bills or ordinances. This has nothing to do with the governor.

    You can petition and write all you want, but there's nothing that can "veto" this.

    The reason that this case was ruled the way it was was because the victim's parents were unable to sue the owners of the dog successfully, so they went after the landlord. In deciding in this manner, it now makes landlords responsible for the actions of their tenent's dogs.

    The fact of the matter is Maryland is one of a very few number of states in this country that does not already impart strict liability on cases of dog bites. Current Maryland law gives owners of 'dangerous' dogs a "1 free bite" policy. Strict liability places more responsibility on owners as there are NO free bites. The fact that the court ruled that strict liability is now only going to be enforced on 'pit bulls and mixes' is kind of stupid and that this includes landlords is just going to $#@! everything up for everyone.

    But.

    You can't petition this away. Sorry.

    The only way this goes away is if a HIGHER court decides in another manner and makes THAT ruling the precedence.
    Thanks for clearing that up LL. I was honestly a little confused as to WHAT exactly all this meant for the dogs.

  14. #14
    Ugh, avoided reading this for days. Wish I could have continued to do so. I would just off myself if I had to go through life that $#@!ing pathetic and scared of anything. What a $#@!-boy the author is.

  15. #15
    Basically, as the owner of a pit bull, you are $#@!uming liability of owning that dog under the $#@!umption that you know its danger and if something happens, regardless of who is technically at fault, you $#@!uming responsibility and claim all culpability. For example, gun ownership is considered strict liability under the law. Thus, if you own a gun, and it goes off, it's your fault, even if it was just sitting on a table and a strong wind blew the trigger (once again, just hypothetically). What the law is saying, for pit bulls, is that you are knowingly undertaking the risk of owning a "dangerous" dog when you own a pit bull and, as such, $#@!ume strict liability in cases of attacks. Furthermore, a landlord that knowingly allows a tenant to possess a pit bull in a rented property is also now $#@!uming strict liability in such a situation as well. This was never the case previously and was the point of this case.

    Where the line gets blurred now is who is considered a landlord. After much research and consulting the MD Attorney General's office, who pointed me to the Maryland State Law Library, a very nice librarian named Shirley spent 2 hours researching for me whether or not hotels would fall under the term 'landlord' in such a situation. Unfortunately, she told me that she was unsure; there has not been a precedence for such a case.

    My hope is that there never is a precedence. My hope is that we can all continue to be responsible owners and not put our dogs in situations that will set them up to fail.

    The damage that this case represents will be to people currently renting property or looking to rent property that own a pit bull. Landlords may not be willing to $#@!ume such liability and, if they do, they may see increases in their insurance. I'm not sure of that yet. What I do know is, if it comes down to it, people will usually give up their dogs before they become homeless. BARCS and other shelters will surely see an increase in pit bull surrenders. It's very unfortunate.

    What is also unfortunate is that, once again, this breed is spotlighted, and not in a good way.

    The only good thing to come out of this is how many people have shown how educated they are. Amazingly, I've seen more support for the breed in the past week than I ever have in MD. Some of the views are misguided (aka 'she does so great at daycare!'), but I'll take what I can get. The MDSPCA has made an official statement regarding their plans to not change anything regarding pit bull retention and adoption. I do not believe shelters in this area are going to simply start putting down pit bulls because they deem them unadoptable. They will, probably, simply see an increase in euthanasia rates due to too many coming in and not enough room to keep them.

    Like I said, unless this goes to appeals in a higher court, this isn't something that can be 'vetoed' or 'overturned' per se; we can, however, continue to be responsible owners and promote the breed in a positive light.

  16. #16
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    This has been going on for at least 35 years now with the "pit bull hysteria". I don't give a $#@! anymore. People are stupid and that's that.

  17. #17
    The article is so absurd I hate giving it any more attention but what I don't understand is why more legislators (at whatever level) don't hold owners of ANY dog breed just as culpable. Is the owner of a black lab that kills a baby in a swing less liable than a pit bull that attacks a boy taunting it? (Realizing there are MANY reasons a dog of ANY breed might attack.)

  18. I wouldn't think a pit would have stronger jaws than a shepherd...from what I've heard, rotties have the hardest bite, then shepherd next....

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Vicki View Post
    Pit bull jaws are three times stronger than those of a German Shepard.
    I have never heard of one of those.

  20. my vet wrote with his own hand that my puppy is Amstaff knowing very well that is an American Pit Bull Terrier just to not have any problems because of his real breed also told me that Thor my puppy is a lovely dog who will kill somebody only with his love Dot.
    APBT jaws are strong enough but not this is what matters people, they don't have the sense of conservation once involved in a mission he thinks he has to finish it No matter what!

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