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Landlords Held Responsible For Pit Bull Injuries; Tenants Face Eviction & Legal Battle

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WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Showdown over pit bulls. Owners are fighting a court ruling that has many choosing between their dogs and their homes.

Mike Hellgren has new details on the legal battle and the community members fighting to keep their pets.

Fed-up pit bull owners are bracing for a legal showdown with the state over a Maryland Court of Appeals ruling that declared the breed dangerous and made landlords responsible for any injuries they cause.

One of the largest battlegrounds in this heated clash is Armistead Gardens, a co-op in East Baltimore.

“She’s an angel,” said Ruth Stange.

Stange is one of many who management told to get rid of the dogs or face eviction.

“I’m not getting rid of my dog for nobody. I’ll move before I get rid of my dogs,” she said.

One resident here filed a federal lawsuit to stop Armistead Gardens from enforcing the policy. The suit also claims the court ruling is unconstitutional.

“It’s really–do you want to lose your dog or do you want to lose your house?” said attorney Charles Edwards.

By the lawyer’s estimates, there are more than 500 pit bulls and pit bull mixes in Armistead Gardens.

The ruling stems from a pit bull attack five years ago on Dominic Solesky, whose parents do not believe landlords and their insurers should be let off the hook for injuries.

“I don’t want to see anybody lose their dog but I almost lost my son and that should be heard loud and clear,” said Solesky’s mother.

But many who say their dogs were singled out say they will stop at nothing to fight a ruling they consider unjust.

“I will always fight for my animals. They’re my children,” Stange said. “And I won’t let nobody hurt them.”

The General Assembly failed to reach an agreement to change the law during a special session last month.

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