The notorious — at least around these parts –Maryland Court of Appeals ruling that determined purebred pit bulls to be “inherently dangerous,” and which in effect held pit owners and their landlords strictly liable for bites, is being challenged in federal court by Joseph Weigel, a resident at the low-income housing development Armistead Gardens, who — along with his fellow residents — was told to ditch his pit bull or face eviction. Weigel’s lawyer sees the ruling as an unconstitutional encroachment on his client’s property rights, as it forces him to choose between his home and his dog.
Now, the last time I mouthed off about the ruling, which I see as hasty and wrong-headed, one of our readers brought up the excellent point that dog attacks are a real and serious issue which we should not lose sight of. In fact, the Court of Appeals ruling stems from the mauling of a young boy by a pit bull in Towson in 2007. Certainly, dogs are potentially dangerous creatures, and that potential increases as the breeds get larger and larger. Hence, responsible pet ownership is absolutely necessary. So it’s a shame that the prejudicial pit bull ruling has created new problems in lieu of solving the long-running one: to safeguard ourselves and our children against random dog attacks without creating chaos in the lives of responsible pet owners.
What would effective, responsible legislation look like?
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