Photo by Matt.Dunn
After howls of complaints over an April Maryland court ruling that found pit bulls to be “inherently dangerous”, yesterday the same court clarified that its decision only applies to pure-bred pit bulls, writes the Post.
Under the original ruling, Maryland courts would apply a strict liability standard to any attack involving a pit bull, meaning that the owner would not have to be shown to have been negligent and even a landlord renting to a pit bull owner could be found responsible if an attack occurred. But under the revised ruling, the court clarified that it only meant to address pure-bred pit bulls, not those of mixed lineage.
While that should be of some relief to pit bull owners-the original ruling would have affected some 70,000 dogs in Maryland, but only a fraction of those are pure-bred-the Humane Society still isn’t happy, saying that there’s really no such thing as a pure-bred pit bull:
“There actually is no such thing as a purebreed pit bull,” said Cory Smith, a senior director with the Humane Society of the United States. “It’s not a breed of dog.”
There are three types of purebred dogs that are of the pit bull variety, she said: the American pit bull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier and the Staffordshire Bull terrier.
But the vast majority of dogs most people consider pit bulls – with big heads, strong jaws and muscular bodies – are of mixed lineage.
In a statement, the Humane Society warned Maryland residents with pit bull-style dogs to head to the vet and get documentation on their dogs; the move comes in the wake of news that a 1,500-home complex in Baltimore banned pit bulls.
“[S]ingling 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,” said the Humane Society in a statement. The organization says it is waiting for the Maryland General Assembly to act to reverse the ruling. “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.”