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Pit Bulls and the Law
Update: Ruling on a motion for reconsideration, the Court decided that owners of cross-bred pit bulls are not strictly liable for the damages caused by their pets. Writing for the majority, Judge Alan Wilner noted that the case did not deal with cross-bred pit bulls, and so the court should not have ruled on them. Secondly, the term 'cross-bred' is vague. The court cannot impose a duty upon owners without a clear definition.
In a decision filed April 26, 2012, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that owners and landlords are strictly liable for damages caused by pit bulls. A person who has been attacked does not need to prove that the particular dog has a history of viciousness. The majority opinion in the case of Tracey v. Solesky holds that pit bulls are inherently dangerous. A person who has been attacked by a pit bull can make a claim for damages against an owner simply by proving that the dog is a pit bull or a pit bull mix and that the owner knows or should know that the dog is a pit bull or mix. Landlords who know or have reason to know that a pit bull is kept on his property may also be sued for damages caused by the dog.
In his opinion, Judge Dale Cathell cited cases both in Maryland and other jurisdictions throughout the country where pit bulls have been treated differently than other dog breeds. Judge Cathell also referenced studies showing that pit bulls have been involved in a large number of attacks in the last several decades.
Is this legal advice?
This site offers legal information, not legal advice. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options. However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney. The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site. In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – www.peoples-law.org. © Maryland State Law Library, 2013.”