Thursday, February 28, 2013


In addition to sending out action alerts to our 7,000 members in Maryland to instruct them on how to best support HB 78/SB 160, Best Friends also has a contract lobbyist in Maryland, Mike Gisriel, who has sent testimony to the Maryland House Judiciary Committee.
    --Best Friends Animal Society
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Mr Gisriel served a single term in the Maryland House of Delegates, after which he chose to reap the benefits of his public service by becoming a lobbyist. In 2009, after a five year investigation, Mr Gisriel was disbarred from practicing law.
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For nearly a year the Maryland General Assembly has been seeking a palatable way to abrogate the Court of Appeals finding of April 2012, when the court ruled that pit bulls are inherently dangerous. On Thursday, February 21, the Maryland House of Delegates voted unanimously to pass HB 78, which abrogates the finding and places strict limitations on the victims of pit bull attacks.

On the following day, as if to add an exclamation point to the vote. a Baltimore County woman was attacked by one (or perhaps both) of her two pit bulls. She was taken to John Hopkins Bayview Hospital, where she remains in serious condition. The victim's boyfriend fears that she may not regain the full use of an arm. The Senate has yet to act on the bill, so hope remains that the Court's finding will stand.

Best Friends has sent instructions to their 7,000 members in Maryland. 7,000! These advocates are directed to a spam-generating web page which suffocates the legislators' email. The HSUS has a similar spam-generating page, further overwhelming the legislators. Dozens or hundreds of other advocacy groups are adding their voices to the clamor. Even more pressure comes from the expensive suits hired by the insurance companies and property developers. The resources poured into overturning the Court's decision are incalculable. [See below for partial list]

Advocates of fighting breeds refer to Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) as a knee-jerk reaction,or as panic policy-making. The Court's ruling was neither knee-jerk nor panicky. However, nothing could be more desperate or panicky than this avalanche of advocacy in response.

State legislatures and city councils are often overwhelmed by similar pressures from pit bull advocates. The experience in Maryland illustrates why legislatures are unable to resolve the pit bull problem, and why we now look to the Courts to offer the solution of last resort.

Will the Maryland State Senate vote with the special interests to abrogate that solution? Or will they stiffen their resolve and allow the Court's finding to stand?

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Special MD Pit Bull Lobbying Pages:
Ending the mayhem in Maryland,
   (Best Friends Animal Society)
Action Alert Page which sends spam to legislators
   (Best Friends Animal Society)
Humane Society Urges Corrective Pit Bull Law
   (HSUS Press Release)
On-line form which encourages spam to legislators
Protect Maryland Dogs
HSUS Urges Legislation to pass bill
Special Projects: Maryland
   (Animal Farm Foundation)
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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.

Statistics are from Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada, published by Animal People. To view or download the current PDF click here.

Woman injured by pit bull in her home
   (ABC2News, Feb 25 2013)
Dundalk woman hospitalized after pit bull attack
   (Washington Post, Feb 23 2013)
House Approves Bill That Reverses Court Ruling,
    (CBS Baltimore, Feb 21, 2013)
Md. House unanimously approves dog bite legislation,
    (Washington Post, Feb 21, 2013)
House passes pit bull bill,
    (Baltimore Sun, Feb 21, 2013)
Maryland legislators reach compromise,
    (Washington Post, Jan 17, 2013)

Maryland Senate bill SB 160 2013
MD Court of Appeals establishes new liability rule in pit bull attack cases
Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics: The Manipulation of
   Public Opinion in America, by Michael Wheeler

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks