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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 attacks by the breed.

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. 

"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.

In June 2011, Severna Park resident Charles McConnell Jr. . McConnell reported that the dog was aggressively barking and growling at him. 

According to police, during the incident, McConnell pulled out a handgun and shot the animal once. Consequently, the animal ran away and later died from its injuries. According to the police report, McConnell was arrested and charged with discharging a firearm in a residential area and animal cruelty. However, online court records state McConnell was found not guilty in November 2011.

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.

Severna Park Patch Editor Leslie Hunt contributed to this story.

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.

Jennifer May 02, 2012 at 12:23 PM
This ruling is an outrage! It is preposterous to condemn an entire breed of dogs just as it would be to generalize and alienate and entire race of people. There are an seemingly endless number of pitbulls that are gentle, sweet and loving. Every breed has its biters, growlers, aggression and attackers. The Court promoted ignorance and hatred with this ruling, nothing else. As a result, 1000s of pit bull and pit bulls mixes that have nothing but love to give will be put to death and be let loose in the streets. Despicable!
Jennifer May 02, 2012 at 12:33 PM
I should add that the phone is already ringing off the hook at shelters, SPCA and Humane Society of people feeling no other choice but to give up their beloved dog. The shelters are already overrun with this wonderful breed bc of the totall irresponsibility of the few and the horrific rap pits get. Already a large amount of pits were dying int he shelter, finding no way out and now, people will march their dogs to their death - these dogs have done nothing wrong, they were just born to be a breed or a breed mix that is condemned by society bc a minority of descpicable people overbreed them and treat them horribly and see them as a staus symbol as opposed to a family member to cherish. I might remind people that Michael Vick tortured and killed so many pits bc no matter what he did to them, he could not get them to fight. If it was their nature, wouldn't they all have been killers? Isn't it amazing that so many of these dogs know only cruelty and abuse and yet, so few of them have attacked. I do not condone the attacks, I think it is a devatstation to all BUT it is NOT the dog that should be condemned, but rather the owner!
Marc Tippin May 03, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Ridiculous! I have a pit, and he is wonderful with my kids, 4 and 9 months, and LOVES people. Agree with Jennifer, this IS an outrage.
Krystine Milewski May 03, 2012 at 12:18 AM
I feel the owners should be held accountable for their animals and if they own a pit bull that attacks someone, the owner is responsible. If they own a rottweiller or a lab or a beagle or a german shepherd, they should be responsible. But, I don't feel this is an issue only for pit bulls, it is an issue of responsible ownership.
Amy Leahy May 03, 2012 at 01:35 AM
I have a 2 year old lab & pit mix and he is an affectionate, people-loving dog. This is the most ridiculous ruling I can imagine. Any dog if it is not raised appropriately will be unfriendly with people and other dogs. My dog is wonderful with my young grandchildren, my cats and even strangers who come to my house.
Jeanne May 03, 2012 at 02:01 AM
I have a pit mix also, and she is the most loving dog we have ever owned! We foster for a rescue and have had over thirty different puppies in our home over the past year. Roxie has NEVER reacted negatively to any of them! She plays with them as if they were her own puppies. She wants nothing more than to please you and be your best friend. This ruling has just brought racism to the animal world!
debbie bell May 14, 2012 at 10:06 PM
The situtation even before the Maryland Ruling: Pits are often acquired for reasons other than companionship and suffer disproportionately from severe abuse, neglect, abandonment, young death (euthanasia and otherwise). Pit mongers say that "pits are wonderful dogs if raised correctly". The results: many/most people BUY pit puppies, which encourages more breeding and results in more homeless, dead pits. Many/most pit owners do not spay/neuter, which results in more pits and pit mixes being produced. Even with free spay/neuter, many pit owners do not care and/or want their dogs to remain intact. Pits fill many pounds, where they die by the ton. Pits remain THE choice of dog fighters. Colby, a "founding father" of the APBT, wrote in his 1936 book "Inasmuch as dog fighting is illegal, as long as these dogs are bred, there will be contests to see who owns the better fighting dog." He wrote the truth. Dog fighting is difficult to prosecute. In order to go undercover, one must own, train, fight and kill dogs. Manyl dogs fights are impossible to stop, as they are spontaniously arranged by neighbors, passersby. No other type of dog is abused in this way. PIt owners show everyday that they 1) fail to care and/or 2) fail to understand their dogs escaping, mauling and killing abilities and instincts. Is this situation acceptable to them? Obviously it is, as they refuse to consider anything to change the situation. What is the goal of the pit mongers?
debbie bell May 14, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Pit mongers say that pits were never bred to be human aggressive, only dog aggressive. WHY ON EARTH would anyone who truly cares about dog welfare want to continue breeding dog-aggressive dogs, especially when combined with the abilities and instincts of THE fighting dog? Dog fighters could use any other type of dog. If they did, they could "fly under the radar." But no other dog was created to maim and kill other dogs, and no other dog has the gameness, the lack of self-preservation, that "good" pit bulls have. Empirical evidence is that most dogs that attack are intact. If they truly cared, pit mongers would promote free, mandatory, enforced spaying/ neutering/ microchipping of all pits, pit mixes, all dog aggressive dogs. If a boxer mix is misidentified, no problem, she gets spayed. No responsible CARING pit owner is punished, as his dogs are spays/neuters. If my favorite breed was being abused, suffering and dying in the numbers and ways pits bulls are, I'd want breeding of my breed to be banned.. Pit mongers and dog fighters are the same, they both only care about themselves and their ability to breed and own pit bulls. The unnecessary and preventable suffering of pits themselves and the suffering of the neighbor dogs/animals/ humans who have been maimed or killed by loose pits is perfectly acceptable to them.

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