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Md. Court Of Appeals Affirms Pit Bull Liability Ruling With 1 Amendment For Mix Breeds

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Pat Warren joined the Eyewitness News team in 1992. Pat came to WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—The Maryland Court of Appeals upholds its strict liability ruling on owners and landlords of pit bulls.

But, as political reporter Pat Warren explains, it issued a reprieve for mix breeds.

Out of the mix, Mary Kate didn’t know Hogan was part pit bull when she adopted him.

“And as he got older and grew into himself he clearly became part pit,” Kate said.

And now Hogan is apparently in the clear of the category of inherently dangerous, imposed by the Maryland Court of Appeals.

On Tuesday the court decided that “holding of strict liability to cross-bred pit bulls was both gratuitous and erroneous because mixes were never part of the case that was brought before it.”

It could reassure renters or landlords that a mixed breed doesn’t count, although landlords may decide they don’t want to take any chances.

But it stuck to its guns that the owners and landlords of purebred pit bulls can be held liable for damages with no proof of the dog’s prior violent behavior.

“We are disappointed that this was the ruling. This is still an urgent matter. Pets and pet owners, they still remain up in the air as to what this means for them. Individuals are being forced to choose between their homes and their beloved family pets. It’s a terrible situation,” said Aileen Gabbey, the executive director of the Maryland SPCA.

It was a terrible situation that brought the case to court, the near-deadly mauling of Dominic Solesky.

His father reacts to Tuesday’s ruling as a matter of public safety.

“I’m saying it never should have been about animals. This is a public safety issue, has always been a public safety issue and how it ever became anything other than that. I would say I’m embarrassed more than I am angry with anyone that thinks it’s other than that,” said Tony Solesky, father.

The Maryland General Assembly failed to solve what some consider discrimination against pit bulls during its special session this month.

The General Assembly could pass emergency legislation but the soonest that could happen is January of next year.

It is unclear right now how the court ruling could affect other cases, or how many landlords may ask tenants to give up their pit bulls rather than risk liability.

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