Pit Bull Task Force Preparing to Meet

As previously reported on Conduit Street, a recent Maryland Court of Appeals ruling has held that an owner of a pit bull or pit bull mix can be held liable for damage done by the dog, even with no prior evidence that the dog was dangerous.  The liability holding also applies to landlords who are aware that a renter owns a pit bull or pit bull mix.  As a result, many landlords are requiring residents to either give up their pit bulls or move out.  The ruling has provoked strong reactions from dog owners and animal care groups.  In response to the ruling, the General Assembly has formed a task force to examine the issue.  The issue could affect counties if pit bull owners have to give up their dogs and overwhelm local animal control shelters who may also be unable to place the animals.

A June 11 Cecil Whig article highlights a recent case where a renting family faced eviction for owning a pit bull and provides an update on the work of the task force.

Delegate Michael Smigiel, R-36 Cecil, said landlords are telling residents to move out or get rid of their dog because insurance companies will not allow coverage. Smigiel is part of a taskforce that is trying to overturn the courts’ ruling.  …

Smigiel and his taskforce plan to meet for the first time June 19. They intend to discuss topics such as the difference of determining a dog bite and a dog mauling and how to deal with irresponsible owners.  …

The Maryland SPCA was greatly troubled by the ruling, but was very pleased that there was a taskforce being put together, said Tina Regester, director of communications and media relations.

“There is a surge in dog abandonment and fewer adoptions in centers,” she said.

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