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Are Pit Bulls Dangerous by Nature? Court Says Yes

The Maryland Court of Appeals has ruled that owners of pit bulls are liable for damages caused by their attacks.

If your pit bull attacks someone, don't expect much sympathy in court. An opinion recently released by the Maryland Court of Appeals states that you should have already known the breed was dangerous.

Maryland owners are now facing increased liability in attack cases, following a ruling in Tracey v. Solesky. The case involved a pit bull named Clifford that attacked a minor, causing life-threatening injuries. 

Pit bulls have been banned in Prince George’s County since 1996, although exceptions are allowed for those owning a dog of the breed prior to the ban.

"When an attack involves pit bulls, it is no longer necessary to prove that the particular pit bull or pit bulls are dangerous," wrote Judge Dale R. Cathell in the opinion.

Cathell also stated that landlords have the right to prohibit pit bulls or pit bull cross-breeds from their property.

A PDF of the opinion is attached in the media gallery.

The opinion cited a series of cases involving vicious attacks by pit bulls, as well as expert evaluations and national statistics, according to a WBAL TV News report

Aileen Gabbey, executive director of the Maryland SPCA, claimed the ruling could lead to fewer adoptions of pit bulls, ABC 2 News reported.

Is it fair for the court to designate pit bulls as inherently dangerous? How accountable should dog owners be held in attack cases? Tell us in the comments.

Jane Clarke May 02, 2012 at 04:56 AM
To Sandra Hamorsky: Google "rescue pit bull attack" and the name of the state where the attack occurred -- WHICH I PROVIDED! If you weren't the typical ignorant, uneducated pit nutter, you could have figured this out for yourself! To Maryland Dog Federation: In some of the articles concerning these attacks, it was noted by the agencies that rescued and pronounced these monsters adoptable that they passed the ATTS Temperament Test, so if anyone is "making things up," it is those agencies, not me! And when it comes to "making things up," there has NEVER been a sillier, more asinine excuse for an "organization" than the Maryland Dog Federation, the purpose of which is to “promote, protect and defend the canine-human bond”! Get a freaking life!
Bowie Mom of 4 May 02, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Look at the number of court cases involving pit bulls. This breed is inherently viscous with no provocation, when will people ever learn. I'm a fan of Peoples Court and Pit bulls and Pit mix breeds are always causing damage to people. That recent case of the baby killed by a stray Pit mix, come on people, wake up, they are killers.You never know what will set them off, they are like ticking time bombs. I'm glad there is a ban on them, I don't want them around me. I'm a dog lover but pit bulls can't be trusted, they are too unpredictable.
Maryland Dog Federation May 02, 2012 at 01:30 PM
@ Jane Clarke I think your posts speak for themselves
Casey from Upper Marlboro May 02, 2012 at 02:25 PM
To all who are on this "I hate pitbull" band wagon, consider this: The number of pitbull/pitbull mixes across america is far greater than any other breed. No shit there will be more cases on them. The media has taken the high number of cases and blown it up as them being terrors to society, and then you guys, who can't think for yourselves, or have your own opinion, believe everything you see on TV or Yahoo news. It's like saying Honda Civics are dangerous cars because they are involved in the most accidents. Obviously they aren't, but since they are the most popular car on the road, there are more chances for them to be in an accident. Believing everything you see on mainstream media is like going to a sewing circle and believing everything that every lady says. Do your research, and not just yahoo and google searches of "pitbull attacks", and make your own opinion. If it doesn't change, then you are either ignorant or an idiot.
Bowie Mom of 4 May 02, 2012 at 04:39 PM
When was the last time you saw or heard of another breed of dog killing a person ?
Casey from Upper Marlboro May 02, 2012 at 05:30 PM
If you haven't heard of another breed ever killing someone, then it's obvious you haven't done any research. Do some research instead of just blabbering about something you don't know about.
Maryland Dog Federation May 02, 2012 at 06:16 PM
@ Bowie Mom of 4 "When was the last time you saw or heard of another breed of dog killing a person", you ask? Well, about a week ago: http://nydn.us/JpQHxj Actually, there were at least two in the last two weeks, but here's one to get you started.
Maryland Dog Federation May 02, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Has anyone noticed that dog haters really hate that people treat their dogs like family? But they also hate that people treat their dogs badly. I'm actually thinking that what I'm mistaking for dog haters are really people haters. @ Casey, your Honda analogy is spot on and it's so easy to understand.
Maryland Dog Federation May 02, 2012 at 07:04 PM
@ Jane Clarke: Googled like you asked. Found no references to ATTS Temperament Test, and vague references to "rescue" "pit bulls", which frankly could mean anything and may not even be accurate based on the scant media information provided. Links would be helpful.
Bowie Mom of 4 May 02, 2012 at 09:38 PM
I'm siding with the Maryland Court of Appeals ruling. Based on cases brought before them, read the above cases, Casey, they are inherently dangerous. If you are pro pitbull or a owner keep loving on those little darlings, but don't let them around other innocent people without a mozzle and a thick leash.
Casey from Upper Marlboro May 03, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Haha @ Bowie Mom of 4
Matthew ODallon May 04, 2012 at 07:16 AM
@@ Jane Clark. Have you listened to yourself lately, you sound like a kook. Putting people down, and saying an organization is stupid. MDF . Atleast there doing something. What do you do? Let me guess, hmm. Retired and bored. Your no better than any of the so called bad pitbulls.. I been bit in the face by a German sheprd. And bit in the leg by a poodle that wouldn't let go till I kicked it. I've been to 3 tours in Iraq. USMC. You want to see real life? Go over there and then come back worrying about pits. How about people that make bombs and kill each other? BTW I researched your stories, you made up half of those stories. A lot of dogs attack. It's the media. Your brainwashed. I don't have to support either side here to see your a kook.
Matthew ODallon May 04, 2012 at 07:21 AM
And also to add, just because a G shepard bit me, is still go up to anouther one and pet it. Everyone can already see Janes one of those that talk real tough behind a computer. Let's see your tough reply. Give us all a good laugh... Hahahaha
Matthew ODallon May 04, 2012 at 07:40 AM
More people attack people everyday than dogs attack people. If you got rid of all the pitbulls, you still have people attacking people. Then what ? @MDF , keep doing what you folks do. You see, Jane has a lot of time on her hands. Stand up for what you believe in. You too Jane, but don't put others down while you do it. Doesn't make you any better.
Jenny May 05, 2012 at 09:04 PM
31 U.S. fatal dog attacks occurred in 2011. Despite being regulated in Military Housing areas and over 650 U.S. cities, pit bulls led these attacks accounting for 71% (22). Pit bulls make up less than 5% of the total U.S. dog population. Dog ownership information for 2011 shows that family dogs comprised 65% (20) of the attacks that resulted in death; 74% (23) of all incidents occurred on the dog owner's property.
Sonia Dasgupta (Editor) May 06, 2012 at 02:32 AM
If you really have an opinion about this case with pitbulls or would love to share stories about pets, think about blogging on Patch in our Local Voices section. You can blog at hyattsville.patch.com/blog_posts/new
Maryland Dog Federation May 11, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Hey @ Matthew Odallon Thanks for all you have done for us! The MDF is hard at work, boots on the ground, to not only fix the Solesky ruling, but to repeal the horrible breed ban here in PGCo. Please join us at marylanddogfederation dot com and on FB Already, in the rest of the state, dogs are being turned away from not only training but VETERINARY CARE! Can you believe it? Vets are saying "we can't treat your dog because our landlord won't let us"???? For the folks advocating and applauding the Solesky ruling, you are clapping your hands for sick dogs being denied treatment. You are denying access to the very training that will make dogs better neighbors. You are advocating for innocent dogs being forced to be killed in shelters because their owners will lose their apartment.
Maryland Dog Federation May 11, 2012 at 04:44 PM
@Jenny You are unfortunately quoting regurgitated, uncorroborated breed specific stats based on often inaccurate media accounts. Please cite your source for "pit bulls" being additionally regulated in "over 650 US Cities", and we'll check on that, because it's quite an overstatement. Thank you.
dogmama May 11, 2012 at 05:26 PM
@MDF - the problem is that these people don't care if innocent dogs are being killed in shelters because in their mind they are not innocent dogs regardless of their natures/temprament, and deserve to die. I remember reading stats that even ACOs in many places can't identify a "pit bull" as opposed to an Am Staffy, Bull Terrier, Boxer, Cane Corso, Presa, or even American Bulldog. No doubt neither can insurers or landlords. You can't tell by how a dog looks. And when is it the next flavor of the month? We've seen prejudice against (in the past) GSDs, dobies, rotties - now it's pitties. What happens when someone decides the next dangerous dog is a lab or newfie because of an incident? I do not understand why it isn't that everyone is responsible for the conduct of his or her dog. If you have a dangerous dog, or a mean dog, you control that dog and if the dog does anything it's on you. Frankly I have a dog who is prone to canine rage and he's a peke-cocker spaniel mix, and because of that we are very careful with how people handle him, where we take him, and who we allow access to him. Where there are incidents - this is about the owners not handling their dogs properly and often as so often happens with this breed, abusing them, and why are they not the ones fined etc.? Because they vote and the dogs don't? I'm also concerned that this will also lead to more abuse toward pitties because they will be seen as expendable - like dehumanizing the enemy in war.
Kevin W. Clark June 01, 2012 at 01:00 AM
All you Pit Bull freaks are f'ing selectively retarded. instead of asking for citations or sources, why don't you try this wonderful new invention called "google"? Here is the CITED, backed up by local news, gory-detailed list of owners, dogs, and situations involved in fatal dog attacks in the year 2011: http://www.dogsbite.org/dog-bite-statistics-fatalities-2011.php 31 U.S. fatal dog attacks occurred in 2011. Despite being regulated in Military Housing areas and over 650 U.S. cities, pit bulls led these attacks accounting for 71% (22). Pit bulls make up less than 5% of the total U.S. dog population.3 Notably in 2011, adult victims of fatal pit bull attacks more than doubled the number of child victims. Of the 22 total pit bull victims, 68% (15) fell between the ages of 32 to 76, and 32% (7) were ages 5 years and younger. The year 2011 also marks an increase in pet pit bulls killing their owners. Of the 8 total instances this year in which a family dog inflicted fatal injury to its primary caretaker, the dog's owner, 88% (7) involved pet pit bulls. Together, pit bulls (22) and rottweilers (4), the number two lethal dog breed, accounted for 84% of all fatal attacks in 2011. In the 7-year period from 2005 to 2011, this same combination accounted for 74% (157) of the total recorded deaths (213).
Kevin W. Clark June 01, 2012 at 01:04 AM
...in b4 all the mouth-breathing pit bull freaks who exclaim "those weren't really pits" and "that site is biased". NO, they WERE pits according to local law enforcement, vets, and local media, and NO the site isn't biased because ALL THE DETAILS ARE RIGHT THERE, BACKED BY LOCAL NEWS STORIES. I've loved and lived with pit bulls, even after my wife was attacked by one she had known and loved for YEARS. It could have EASILY have been the family's two year old instead. I own and show a 120lb Shiloh (mostly GSD, just BIGGER) Shepherd, with a bite force (scientifically measured as TWICE as strong as an APB or ASST) and I *know* I own a potentially dangerous dog, even if he is a cuddly goof. I treat him with caution when he's around kids or other animals because I KNOW what he could do if he had a bad day and something triggered his ire. These Pit Bull freaks are so ignorant in their denial, but it's always the same story: "I never knew poochie was capable of killing someone! WAH, Why didn't someone tell us?", "it's the breeder's fault". NO, it isn't. Ignorance isn't an excuse. Pit Bulls are the most dangerous breed of dog there is...they are BRED for fighting, being fearless, and NOT STOPPING. It's this thing called "breeding", it means selecting for certain traits and ONLY breeding dogs that display those traits...perhaps you nutters should look into it, as it has shaped the evolution of the canis lupus familiaris (domesticated dog) for, oh, the last 15 THOUSAND YEARS.
Kevin W. Clark June 01, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Uh oh...here come the REALITY DENIERS. Let me google that for you, not that you will believe any FACTS that contradict your very limited and selective worldview. http://www.dogsbite.org/legislating-dangerous-dogs-bsl-faq.php there...go ahead and count because I won't waste my time, since you won't believe the number anyway. Jenny is absolutely on the money. I've known and loved Pit Bulls, ABT, ASST, PC, and the other "Bully-breeds", but I *KNOW* first hand how dangerous they can be...often, without ANY warning. Instead of whining about BSL or reality, why don't you folks actually *do* something positive and go after back yard breeders? you know that more than 50% of dogs in shelters are a PB or bully mix? That's a lot of dogs dying because these idiot BYBs think it is "cool" to breed their half retarded semi-untrainable dogs. Go after them and maybe you could actually DO SOMETHING about all the future PBs destined for the needle, hmm?
Kevin W. Clark June 01, 2012 at 01:20 AM
This is possibly the dumbest thing I've read all month: "More people attack people everyday than dogs attack people". WTF? Non sequitor, false equivalency, and straw man logical fallacy much? Seriously. MORE PEOPLE ARE KILLED BY CAR ACCIDENTS EVERY DAY THAN BY GUNS! So what????
Kevin W. Clark June 01, 2012 at 01:29 AM
your thought process is as atrocious as your command of spelling, grammar, and syntax, You think she sounds like a kook?!? Your English, logic, and inability to present a single cogent thought dishonors both my eyes and all the hundreds of my American ancestors, going all the way back to before the American revolution. Nobody gives a rat's ass about your tours of duty in Iraq, as it doesn't relate to the subject, make you any kind of authority on "real life", or grant you any special right to not be called out for the many fallacious and specious arguments you've made here on this thread. You signed up voluntarily, for your own reasons...don't parade what you did by trying to beat people over the head with it, when it isn't even the subject at hand....otherwise, you cheapen other service men and women's sacrifices and humility...for what?
Kevin W. Clark June 01, 2012 at 01:33 AM
ATT is a crock of horse-puckey. Half the time Pits get upset, they don't raise hackles or growl....they just GO OFF. My Shiloh (GSD), is BRED only for size and temperament and would likely do WORSE on the ATT than a Pit, just because he is more demonstrative of his moods than a Bully is.
Kevin W. Clark June 01, 2012 at 01:34 AM
it's not a case of other breeds killing....sure, they do. It's that PBs do 80%+ of the killing, ffs.
Adrianne June 01, 2012 at 01:56 PM
@ Kevin Clark: Calling people "freaks" and "retards" seriously undermines your statements. Problems are...one...media accounts often mis-identify dogs. Often. Two...the basis for this "data" you are quoting, the CDC/HSUS/AVMA study from 2000, been recanted...read this directly from the American Veterinary Medical Association..."In contrast to what has been reported in the news rnedia, the data contained in this report CANNOT be used to infer any breed-specific risk for dog bite fatalities (e.g., neither pit bull-type dogs nor Rottweilers can be said to be more "dangerous" than any othet breed based on the contents of this report)." You are peddling hysteria and misinformation and doing nothing productive to improve public safety. The data you are refusing to consider fly in the face of your beliefs. You are entitled to your beliefs, but they are not facts.
Kevin W. Clark June 04, 2012 at 03:21 PM
I don't care what a veterinary web site says, if you go to the http://www.dogsbite.org site, you get a CASE by CASE with synopsis, with LINKED news stories (sometimes multiple stories), so...at the end, the facts are supported there by HUNDREDS of different media organizations. Ask yourself, is it more likely that AVMA (whose data I am NOT quoting) is full of BS, or is it more likely that hundreds of different media organizations are in cahoots, participating in a secret media-cabal to single out this one breed to make it look bad? Occam would be rolling over in his grave should anyone choose the latter. If you believe that, you are deserving of any mockery you receive. I would take a similar stand if you were to tell me that all those PB attacks are faked by space aliens.
Maryland Dog Federation June 04, 2012 at 08:23 PM
We understand. You don't want facts to get in the way of your opinion. If you are really interested in how it all works, I suggest you read the book Pit Bull Placebo. The only people I am "mocked by" are name callers and folks who prefer to maintain their opinions, to which they are entitled. The dogsbite website is not based in science, though it does fool a lot of of folks.
Emily Easton July 08, 2012 at 10:08 PM
To everyone who says that pit bull- type dogs are the only ones that attack, please read the following links: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2073504/Girl-13-savaged-German-shepherd-puppy-tore-chunk-nose-left-needing-50-stitches.html http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/2846739.stm http://www.9news.com/news/story.aspx?storyid=65161 http://www.shortnews.com/start.cfm?id=46922 http://www.wboc.com/global/story.asp?S=10769319 http://www.northjersey.com/news/021611_Shar-Pei_implicated_in_fatal_dog_attack_in_Tenafly_is_decalred_potentially_dangerous.html http://www.minbcnews.com/news/story.aspx?id=655771#.T_oDS3DRdok Each of these links includes a story about a serious "dog attack", none of them involving pit bull- type dogs. Included are a German Shepard, a Dalmation, two Labrador Retreivers, a poodle, and a shar- pei. All of these stories were reported by credible news agencies, worldwide. Any type of dog is capable of attacking or biting a person. It is up to us as dog owners to take responsibility of our own dogs. It is irresponsible and negligent to place the blame on ANY one breed of dog, pit bull or not. The state of Maryland needs an all- encompassing, comprehensive law protecting all dog bite victims and holding ALL dog owners responsible for their animals.

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