Pit Bulls Get Another Chance in This Week’s Special Session

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This week’s special session will consider, in addition to expanding gambling in the state, a bill to overturn the Maryland Court of Appeals ruling that found dogs of the pit bull persuasion “inherently dangerous” and threatened to increase liability for pit bull owners and landlords who rent to them.

The draft bill simplifies liability for dog owners, making “owners of any breed legally responsible for bites.” Landlords would no longer bear liability. In general, this bill would actually make the law more strict — currently victims of dog attacks have to prove the owner had knowledge of the dog’s violent history — but it would wouldn’t target a particular breed and there wouldn’t be a disincentive for landlords to rent to pet owners.

But it’s not certain that anything will be decided. Remember the General Assembly will be considering two issues at once, and they haven’t shown a great facility for multi-tasking. Also, some delegates fear that a “strict liability” law would make it more difficult for dog owners to get insurance.

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