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Pit Bull Owners Face Decision To Abandon Their Dogs Or Be Evicted From Their Homes

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Shelters and pit bull owners say they’re now feeling the effects of a controversial ruling that labeled pit bulls as inherently dangerous.

Monique Griego has more.

Many landlords are now telling their tenants to get rid of their dogs or face eviction. That’s creating problems for shelters that are already at capacity.

Once Maryland’s law labeling pure-bred pit bulls as inherently dangerous went into effect, Rita Masters knew what might come next.

“I was afraid I’m going to have to give up my babies,” she said.

The Maryland Court of Appeals last week upheld its decision to increase the liability of pit bull owners and their landlords. Soon after, Masters got a letter from her housing development, Armistead Gardens, saying she needed to get rid of her dogs immediately or face eviction.

“They don’t give you no time limit. No time to find a home for them or anything,” Masters said.

That’s why Masters and several other owners are standing their ground.

“I shouldn’t have to get rid of my dog or choose either between my dog and a place to live,” resident James Sheeler said.

“I’m keeping my dogs. I’m not getting rid of them,” Masters said.

Residents of Armistead Gardens are now teaming up with various animal groups to take legal action against the ruling, and in the meantime, keep their dogs.

“When it comes to our animals, we all stick together,” Ruth Stang, a pit bull owner, said.

But some owners can’t afford the risk. Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) animal shelter has already had more than 30 dogs turned in because of the ruling.

“These people really have no other option and they’re really, really upset about getting rid of their dogs. They’re great pet owners,” Jennifer Brause, executive director of BARCS, said.

Brause anticipates the dogs will keep coming unless animal groups and pet owners can get Maryland lawmakers to overturn the ruling next session.

“I’m hoping they change. I’m hoping they don’t have to make people give up their dogs,” she said.

WJZ contacted Armistead Gardens and their lawyer had no comment.

The original ruling also included stricter liability for pit bull mixes but now it only includes pure breeds.

Animal advocates plan to support new bills at Maryland’s next General Assembly session which begins Jan. 9.

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