The one-bite law places an immense burden on the victim of a pit bull attack, who must prove that any dog causing injury or death already has been known to be vicious or dangerous. If no proof of previous harm can be discovered there will be no remedy for the victim and the dog (and his owner) are released without prejudice. By passing this legislation the Maryland legislature would not only remove the Court's protection for victims, but they would openly shield others who should be accountable. The legislation names those who would avoid strict liability, including:
AN OWNER OF REAL PROPERTY OR OTHER PERSON WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO CONTROL THE PRESENCE OF A DOG ON THE PROPERTY OTHER THAN THE OWNER OF THE DOG, INCLUDING A LANDLORD, CONDOMINIUM COUNCIL OF UNIT OWNERS, COOPERATIVE HOUSING CORPORATION, OR HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION.The legislation is clearly designed to disallow succor to victims of pit bull attacks by their refusal to recognize that “pit bulls are inherently dangerous” as in the court finding.
Pit bulls are dangerous and there is ample evidence daily to corroborate this fact by attacks and killings by this breed reported from around the world (see news link below). Rather than provide for the health and safety of the public the legislature in passing this law will do exactly the opposite. In so doing they deny victims of these horrific attacks the help that they deserve. The argument made for rebuttable presumption, that the owner (or other responsible party) of the dog knew or ought to know that the dog is vicious or dangerous, is spurious when it comes to fighting breeds. We all know what these dogs were breed for and we are not immune from media news of the countless attacks on both humans and other animals. The court ruling was based on facts known about pit bulls. The statistical data is incontrovertible.
If the General Assembly passes SB 160 / HB 78 it would refute the known facts and would instead protect those who harbor pit bulls or adopt them out or who allow them to be housed or those who provide insurance. They would remove the public safety guarantees of the court finding, thereby placing the citizens of Maryland at risk and restricting the public's right to redress. If the Assembly passes the legislation, citizens would be denied the right to refer to the breed of a pit bull when seeking redress for an attack.
That the General Assembly would pass such a bill as an emergency measure to protect the health and safety of the public, as the bill claims, is a sham.
Re: Court of Appeals in Tracey v. Solesky, No. 53, September Term 2011.
This post is one of a series on the Maryland pit bull conundrum. To view the index of all Maryland posts click here.
Maryland legislators reach compromise (Washington Post, Jan 17, 2013)
Legislation would ease pressure (Towson Patch, Jan 24, 2013))
Pit bull legislation (Maryland Reporter, Jan 25, 2013)
Maryland Senate bill SB 160 2013
MD Court of Appeals establishes new liability rule in pit bull attack cases
Special MD Lobbying Pages:
Humane Society Urges Corrective Pit Bull Law (HSUS Press Release)
On-line form which encourages spam to legislators (HSUS)
Protect Maryland Dogs (HSUS)
HSUS Urges Legislation to pass bill (HSUS)
Special Projects: Maryland (Animal Farm Foundation)
Google News: Today's pit bull attacks