(excerpts from the news for how pit bull owners, landlords, or insurers might respond if they find themselves in court)
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The House of Delegates and the Maryland Senate have bills that hold the pet owner responsible, if they knew their dog would attack someone.
The recommended defense for a pit bull owner, landlord, or insurer to avoid liability:
But your honor, I didn't have any reason to expect my dog would attack.
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An owner would have been presumed responsible for a dog's attack on another person, but the owner could escape liability by showing more evidence than the plaintiffs that there was no prior history indicating the animal was dangerous.
Pit bull bill compromise unravels, The Baltimore Sun
I've raised these dogs since they were puppies. I don't know why they attacked, but they've never shown any aggression before.
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If [you] have a dog that has no propensity to violence, and then all of a sudden bites somebody, . . . now you've gotta go to court and prove that your dog, Fluffy, is a good dog and never had any propensity to do violence.
(Senator Frosh in a floor debate, at 9 - 42 seconds in attached audio)
My dog, Fluffy, is a good dog and never had any propensity to do violence.
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The irony may be overstated, but situations similar to these are inevitable if the General Assembly enacts the new legislation.
Victims of pit bull attacks are often left to their own resources in their efforts to seek a legal remedy for a pit bull attack. Owners of pit bulls, on the other hand, are often mysteriously funded and provided with expensive attorneys. The attorneys who work with pit bull advocacy groups will easily game HB 78 / SB 160 with answers like those suggested above. The attacking pit bulls will return to the safety and comfort of their homes and the owners will be free of liability.
Suivez l'argent à la trace.* It may lead a resourceful journalist to a Pulitzer prize.
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This post is one of a series on the Maryland pit bull conundrum. To view the index of all Maryland posts click here.
In a recent 57 day period (Jan 8 through Mar 6, 2013) there were six fatal pit bull attacks, all of which were committed by family pit bulls. See Fatal Pit Bull Attacks
Statistics are from Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada, published by Animal People. To view or download the current PDF click here.
* Follow the money trail.
Maryland House Votes
(The Examiner, April 1, 2013)
House, Senate Still at Impasse
(Baltimore Sun, March 27, 2013)
Pit Bull Owners Left in Limbo Over Liability
(Washington Post Opinion, March 23, 2013)
Amendment may kill pit bull legislation in Maryland
(WBAL TV 11, March 15, 2013)
House, Senate Far Apart On Legislation
(Baltimore Sun, March 14, 2013)
Pit bull bill in Peril as Senate Hardens Position
(Baltimore Sun, March 12, 2013)
Senate, House Considering Different Pit Bull Bills
(WBAL 1090 AM, March 12, 2013)
Senate Dog-Bite Bill Different From House
(CBS DC, March 12, 2013)
Dog bite victim's uncle talks about saving her
(abc2news.com, March 11, 2013)
Pit bull bill compromise unravels
(Baltimore Sun, March 8, 2013)
Court partly backs off pit bull ruling
(Baltimore Sun, August 21, 2012)
Google News: Today's pit bull attacks