Reporting Meghan McCorkell
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Controversy grows over dangerous dogs. A ruling by the state’s highest court singles out pit bulls as more vicious than other breeds. If pit bulls attack, it could cost their owners– and even their landlords– big money.
Meghan McCorkell explains why this ruling is making waves.
A ruling by the court says pit bulls and pit bull mixes are dangerous merely because of their breed, and that has some animal advocates sounding the alarm.
A 5-year-old boy was mauled by a pit bull last April.
“He came under the gate and bit my leg,” the boy said.
Last June, a pit bull attack nearly killed a 78-year-old Greektown woman.
And in 2007, 10-year old Domenic Solesky was viciously attacked outside his Towson home.
“He grabbed my leg and started shaking me around and dragging me around the alley,” Solesky said.
Solesky’s case has led a state court of appeals to rule all pit bulls vicious dogs.
“Typically, determining if an animal is dangerous is based on that animal’s behavior and temperament,” said Aileen Gabbey of Maryland’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).
But the courts ruled: “When an attack involves pit bulls, it is no longer necessary to prove that the particular pit bull or pit bulls are dangerous.”
The new ruling has some animal rescues worried about the adoptions of pit bulls.
“Animal shelters will likely see a surge in dog abandonments,” Gabbey said.
Landlords with pit bulls on their property are now also liable if the dogs bites.
“We’ve already received several phone calls today from people who are being told by their landlords they will be evicted if they don’t get rid of their pit bulls,” Jen Swanson of the Baltimore Humane Society.
“Breed specific legislation is purely racial profiling for dogs,” Kathy Soul of the Charm City Pit Bull Project said.
Soul vows to fight the new ruling.
“This week, they’re coming for my beloved little rescue pit bull. And next week, they could be coming for your dog,” she said.
Baltimore County attempted to pass greater restrictions on pit bulls back in 2007 but the legislation was defeated.
Several local shelters have frozen all pit bull adoptions in the wake of this ruling.