Pit Bull Bill Dies in Special Session

House, Senate can’t agree on compromise

Wednesday, Aug 15, 2012  |  Updated 10:07 AM EDT
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Pit Bull Bill Dies in Special Session

Lawmakers deadlocked over what to do about a controversial pit bull ruling during the special session.

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What was good news for gamblers, turned out to be bad news for pit bull owners. The General Assembly deadlocked over a bill that would have overruled a court decision declaring the dog breed “inherently dangerous.”

Maryland Court of Appeals initially made the ruling last spring. It put a higher liability standard on both pit bull owners and their landlord’s even if the dog has never shown a history of being aggressive.

The problem during the special session boiled down to a disagreement over how to change the ruling and who to hold responsible.

The Senate wanted to get rid of any breed distinction and treat all breeds the same when it comes to liability after a dog attack. They also wanted to remove most of the burden from landlords.

The House, on the other hand, only wanted to apply strict liability in cases where the dog was running loose. The Delegates’ main concern was that lumping all dogs into the bill could drive up insurance rates for pet owners.

Now, dog owners will have to wait until the Assembly next regular session in January to get some kind of resolution.

"It's really unfortunate that thousands of Maryland families will be forced to choose either their dogs or their homes in the next four months," Tami Santelli, Maryland senior state director for The Humane Society of the United States, told the Baltimore Sun.

In the meantime, the Court of Appeals could make their ruling law when they meet Thursday.
 

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