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Foes Of Pit Bull Ruling Unleash Criticism

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WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—There’s new fallout over a landmark ruling declaring pit bulls dangerous. Emotions ran high as animal lovers expressed their fears to lawmakers that they could lose their beloved pets. For one family, it was extraordinarily personal.

Mike Hellgren reports from Johns Hopkins Hospital, where one family’s son was treated after a pit bull attack.

The pit bull attack in Baltimore County that left young Dominic Solesky fighting for his life lead to a landmark ruling by Maryland’s highest court–that singled out the breed as inherently dangerous, sparking alarm among owners and rescue groups.

No longer would it be necessary to prove a dog had a troubled history after an attack. Now owners and landlords would be held fully liable.

The fear is pit bulls will be abandoned and people will be forced from their homes if they want to keep their dogs.

“I don’t want to see anybody lose their dog, but I almost lost my son that day, and that’s something that needs to be recognized loud and clear,” said Irene Solesky.

For the Soleskys, testimony before a task force working to decide whether the state should make changes to the law, is more difficult but necessary.

“It’s not a question of not loving animals.  It’s a question of appropriate priorities,” said Anthony Solesky, dad of attack victim.

The Maryland State Bar Association calls it an activist decision and says the high court left little guidance to what actually is a pit bull.

A task force is now deciding whether the General Assembly should take action.

“It can be undone by the General Assembly, which we’re hoping that the General Assembly will do,” said Heidi Meinzer, Maryland State Bar Association.

Many owners believe the breed has been unfairly targeted–that not all pit bulls are vicious.

“When no one else is around, Ginger is always going to be there–unless we have to take her off our property, which the new law might make us do,” said Dexter Mueller, pit bull owner.

“People really care, and it’s people and pets who are the interested parties here,” said Aileen Gabbey, Maryland SPCA.

The Soleskys say they just want to make sure what happened to their son doesn’t happen to anyone else.

“This looked like a shark attack. And not every dog–no matter how bad the dog owner is–is going to be able to inflict that kind of damage,”   Irene Solesky said.

There are an estimated 70,000 pit bulls in Maryland.

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