Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Inherently Flawed

Concerns that every nip at an ankle could turn into what some lawmakers called "1-800-Dog-Bite" killed the bill with minutes to go before the end of the legislative session.
WTOP 103.5 FM
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The Maryland General Assembly extended the final day of their legislative session until midnight April 8th, in part to allow additional time for a compromise on pit bull legislation.

At 10:00pm, when it became clear the differences between the House and Senate would not be resolved, the House leadership tabled the legislation.

On the morning after Tami Santelli of the Humane Society of the United States responded by pointlessly ramping up the rhetoric:
What happens next? People get kicked out of their houses. Pit bulls get sent to shelters and get euthanized. Businesses struggle with increased liability for another year.
For the last year the HSUS, Ms Santelli in particular, has worked to create a climate of fear and impending doom should the General Assembly fail to pass HB 78 / SB 160.

The legislation failed for the wrong reasons; fortunately it did fail. The Court's April 26, 2012 finding was correct and the General Assembly's frantic efforts to abrogate that ruling were inherently flawed. The desperation became evident in the final hours, when a bizarre compromise was floated which would have  discriminated against older victims of pit bull attacks by providing strict liability only for those victims under the age of twelve.

People learned to stop smoking in restaurants and public buildings, and we can learn to live with restrictions on pit bulls. We can and must find reasonable ways of reducing the pit bull population over time, and of keeping the public and our more vulnerable animal companions safe in the interim.

A pit bull has killed a human once every twelve days so far this year,* a death rate that should be intolerable in a civil society. It has taken years for the HSUS to paint themselves into a legal and financial corner with their advocacy of pit bulls, and there is no quick and easy way out. Now they must find the courage and foresight to extricate themselves from their predicament.

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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.

* As of April 9th there have been 8 canine homicides in the US during the 2013 calendar year, for an average of one death every twelve days. All of these human deaths were caused by pit bulls. See Current Dog Attack Statistics.

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

Pit Bull Compromise Fails
   (Marta H. Mossburg, The Baltimore Sun, April 9, 2013)
Bill to address court ruling . . .  fails to pass
   (Washington Post, April 9, 2013)
Votes weren't there for pit bull compromise
   (Baltimore Sun, April 9, 2013)
Fur flies as pit bull compromise fails in Maryland
   (WTOP 103.5 FM, April 9, 2013)
Negotiators Reach Deal on Pit Bull Bill
   (Baltimore Sun, April 8, 2013)

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks