A recent ruling in Maryland's highest court puts certain dog owners and landlords on a tighter leash.
The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled in a case involving a pit bull attack that it is no longer necessary for those attacked by a pit bull or a pit bull mix to prove that the dog is violent—the owner or landlord "is strictly liable for the damages caused" by nature of the breed.
The decision's author, Judge Dale R. Cathell, wrote that in the last 13 years, "there have been no less than seven maulings by pit bulls upon Maryland residents resulting in either serious injuries or death that have reached the appellate court of this state, including the two boys attacked by the pit bull in the present case."
The case that prompted the ruling involved a pit bull that escaped from its pen in Towson in 2007 and injured two boys in one day, causing one to undergo one year in rehabilitation and multiple surgeries for wounds.
In the past, a victim would have to prove that an owner knew the dog was dangerous to file suit, said WBAL.
A judge who disagreed with the decision wrote that pit bulls have not been proven to be more dangerous than other dogs and noted there is no standard for determining mixed breeds, complicating the ruling's enforcement.
"There is no evidence from expert witnesses to support the proposition that pit bulls or pit bull mixed-breeds are inherently dangerous," wrote Judge Clayton Greene Jr., in a dissenting opinion, which two of his fellow judges signed.
"It appears that the media has demonized pit bulls as gruesome fighting dogs and has not revealed the long history of pit bulls as family dogs with passive behaviors."
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