At the MDSPCA March for the Animals yesterday, poodles, pits and beagles alike dressed in bell-jingling tutus or Mardi-Gras-groovy collars were the norm, as were proud, grinning families and singles pulling the reins on young and old pups, many of whom bore essential resemblance to their human counterparts. (Don’t forget the turtle in hand or the rat-tailed ferrets lolling on their lady’s shoulder.) We strolled past tents publicizing vet services and doggie daycare as always, but this year a bright red State Farm Insurance tent stuck out like a sore paw. Upon closer step, I could read the marker-written message board: “Did you know that State Farm does not breed discriminate! Ask us!” Of course, this commercial tent—site sat fittingly close to the BARCS (Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter) “pit crew” station—underlines a hot topic among dog lovers this weekend (and long before), not whether to deck the Doberman in Pucci, but whether pits are as safe as any other breed.
Reporter Jessica Anderson, writing in The Baltimore Sun on Saturday, explained the local scoop succinctly: “Pit bulls are inherently dangerous animals, the state’s highest court has ruled, a decision that could lead to stiff penalties for people found responsible in attacks — even if the dogs have never been violent before. A decision by the Maryland Court of Appeals, issued this week, distinguishes pit bulls and mixed breeds from other kinds of dogs. In the past, a victim intending to file a lawsuit after a dog attack had to prove that a dog’s owner knew it had a history of being dangerous. Now, showing that the owner or landlord knew a dog is part pit bull would be sufficient for a claim.”