Reporting Monique Griego
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Pit bull owners are taking their fight to keep their dogs and their homes to federal court.
Monique Griego has the latest on a lawsuit filed against the state and a local housing community.
Hundreds of pit bull owners in Armistead Gardens are facing a tough decision after receiving a notice from property managers late last month.
“We either had to get rid of the dogs or they were going to evict us,” Joe Weigel, a pit bull owner, said.
The move came in response to a recent Maryland Court of Appeals ruling, which labeled full-bred pit bulls “inherently dangerous” and made it possible for landlords to be held liable in case of an attack.
Weigel says Armistead is taking a broader stance banning any dog that could be a pit bull.
Faced with losing his dog Angel or his home, he’s taking his fight to federal court.
“The only thing I could do was try to protect myself from being evicted because I can’t afford to move somewhere else,” Weigel said.
Weigel’s attorney Charles Edwards filed a complaint against the State of Maryland and Armistead Gardens.
“These are people who live in a depressed neighborhood and wouldn’t have housing elsewhere. They would likely be homeless,” Edwards said.
Edwards says the ruling is not only unconstitutional because it overrides people’s property rights but also that it’s too ambiguous.
“The law doesn’t define what a pit bull is. So it becomes, ‘I know it when I see it,’” he said.
He’s seeking a temporary restraining order to keep the ruling from being enforced.
While Armistead Gardens did not give a date on when it would start to evict people, Weigel knows it could happen any day.
“It would break my heart to get rid of her [his dog Angel]. But there’s nothing else I could do,” he said.
WJZ contacted Armistead Gardens about the lawsuit but did not receive a response.
Residents are hoping a temporary restraining order against the ruling will lead to a permanent injunction.