House & Senate Debate Different Visions of Pit Bull Bill

The Maryland General Assembly continues to debate legislation regarding dog bites that is being considered in response to a Maryland Court of Appeals holding on pit bulls earlier this year.  For a full background on the issue see an August 10 Conduit Street article.

The Senate passed legislation (SB 2) that would apply strict liability on dog owners but remove strict liability for landlords on August 10.  The House Judiciary Committee heard the bill on August 13 and after a long and sometimes contentious bill hearing voted out a heavily amended version of SB 2.

The amended version of SB 2:  (1) limits the application of strict liability for dog owners to dogs that are unsecured and running free; (2) exempts local government animal control personnel; (3) expands an exemption for police and military dogs; (4) clarifies that the bill does not affect any existing law relating to provocation, criminal intent, or contributory negligence; and (5) provides a sunset.

MACo staff was involved with the amendments relating to animal control personnel and police dogs.  It is unclear how the Senate, which has indicated it favors a strong version of strict liability for dog owners will react to some of the House amendments.

August 13 Baltimore Sun blog post on House amendments

August 13 MarylandReporter.com audio report on House and Senate actions regarding the pit bull legislation

August 11 Washington Post editorial urging for passage of some version of the pit bull legislation

August 10 Gazette.net Barry Rascovar commentary on the Soleski holding and the pit bull legislation

August 10 Gazette.net article on the Senate bill hearing

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