Thursday, April 11, 2013
Maryland legislature adjourns without repealing pit bull ruling
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2013
ANNAPOLIS, Maryland–– The 2013 Maryland state legislature adjourned on April 8, 2013 without passing a bill meant to “abrogate” an April 2012 state Court of Appeals ruling that “When an attack involves pit bulls, it is no longer necessary to prove that the particular pit bull or pit bulls are dangerous,” for a victim to claim damages from whoever possesses the dog or dogs.
The Maryland House of Delegates on February 21, 2013 unanimously approved a bill by Luis R.S. Simmons of Montgomery County which would in effect have restored to all dogs the common law “one free bite” standard that prevailed before the appellate ruling in Tracey v. Solesky. The ruling originated from an unprovoked pit bull attack on two boys in April 2007. The pit bull keeper was indigent, but the landlord was held responsible for severe injuries to one of the boys, Dominic Solesky, because the house she had rented to the pit bull keeper lacked a fence capable of keeping the pit bull confined.
The Simmons bill was endorsed by the Best Friends Animal Society, Humane Society of the U.S., American SPCA, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, as well as by lobbyists representing landlords and the insurance industry, and was expected to clear the Maryland Senate until it was amended on March 7, 2013 by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. The amendment, proposed by state senator Robert A. Zirkin and approved 7-4, would have applied to all dogs the strict liability standard that the court established for pit bulls.
Three Maryland residents were severely injured by pit bulls between the House of Delgates’ passage of the Simmons bill and the end of the legislative session––an Edgemere woman who was mauled by at least one of her own two pit bulls on February 22; a two-year-old Dundalk girl who suffered head and facial injuries on March 10 when attacked by a pit bull reportedly belonging to a family friend; and a five-year-old White Plains girl who was left in critical condition on April 3 by a pit bull, a Cane Corso, and a Presa Canario kept by her mother’s boyfriend. Both Cane Corsos and Presa Canarios are pit bull variants.