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Pit Bull Bill Moves Forward, Passes Senate Committee

A bill that would overturn the state's Court of Appeals decision declaring pit bulls "inherently dangerous" overcame its first hurdle Thursday by passing a Senate committee hearing 7-2.

Maryland's Senate Judicial Services Committee voted 7-2 in favor of a bill that would overturn the state's Court of Appeals decision declaring pit bulls "inherently dangerous." 

Senators Joseph Getty (R-District 5) and Nancy Jacobs (R- District 34) made up the minority.

Despite more than two hours of testimony before the committee, Senate Bill 2 passed without amendment. 

The legislation would overturn the breed distinction created by April's Tracey v. Solesky ruling, which stated that "when an attack involves pit bulls, it is no longer necessary to prove that the particular pit bull or pit bulls are dangerous."

Instead, the bill's language tightens down regulations on all dog owners by making them legally responsible for a first bite even if a pet has never been violent. But Senate Bill 2 loosens the requirements for landlords by removing the strict liability they have faced since the court's decision.

Sen. Robert Zirkin (D-District 11) tried to offer an amendment that would make landlords liable for bites that happen on their properties if they did not require renters to purchase insurance for their animals, but he ended up being the only vote in support of it.

Several members supported Zirkin's amendment in theory, but said it was too late in the game and there was too little time during special session to debate the pros and cons of requiring dog owners to purchase insurance. 

"This has got to go to the House," Sen. Victor Ramirez (D-District 47) said. "We've all dealt with the House for years, it's a nightmare to get anything done."

The House Judicary Committee will take up the bill Friday at 1:30 p.m.

 

Correction: This article originally included Sen. Norman Stone (D-District 6) in the minority when he voted in favor of Senate Bill 2. Patch regrets the error.

Melissa Wilson August 16, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Someone can yell at me for being off topic on this one but I feel the need to point out that Pittbulls were originally bred to be "nanny" dogs, companion dogs, therapy dogs, search and rescue dogs, and even seeing eye dogs. There is even several photos floating around the internet somewhere of Helen Keller with her Pitbull who served as her seeing eye dog, companion, and therapy dog.
Karl Schuub August 16, 2012 at 12:41 AM
Really? Nanny dogs...odd because another Pit Bull attack on a child in Harford County just this evening. It bit the child in the face and arms. Fortunately a deputy was in the area and shot the dog dead. Nanny dog? If you're mental and really have a death wish for your kids maybe.
Melissa Wilson August 16, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Yes, in fact they are very protective of their families, especially children. In my personal experience our dog Tee was very loving, put up with plenty of ear tugging and tail pulling from my nephew and would even guard him away from sharp edges on furniture or stairs/balconies/edges of porches he may have tumbled down. Tee paid just as much attention to him and guarded and protected him as any adult or babysitter in the home.
Karl Schuub August 16, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Care to comment on the situation in Harford this evening where this seemingly calm, Pit Bull pet attacked an 11 year old and mauled him in the face and arms?
Sheeple August 16, 2012 at 01:34 AM
When an evil person uses a weapon to harm someone, does the legal system punish the weapon? Umm, yes see gun control in MD, an AR is regulated because it looks mean.

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