Maryland: Federal Judge Upholds Strict Liability “Pit Bull” Law

By Editor
In Breed-Specific Legislation
Jul 19th, 2013
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 Those in the dog lobby intent on overturning Maryland’s strict liability law for “pit bulls” (and their owners and the owner’s landlord) “hit a setback” when a federal judge ruled the strict liability law could stand.  Strict liability means that if that non-existent “breed” “pit bull” bites you in the state of Maryland and you happen to be a renter, the victim could sue the dog’s owner and his/her landlord even if the dog has never aggressed or bitten someone before because there is a presumption that so-called “pit bulls” are more dangerous than other “breeds” of dog.    

As Charles Edwards, attorney for one such ousted “pit bull” owner/renter said

“They go round-about trying to say they’re trying to stop people from being attacked, but what they’re really doing here is getting people evicted,” said Charles Edwards, the tenant’s attorney.  He plans to appeal the ruling to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.

In other words, the strict liability law may have less to do with so-called “pit bulls,” and more to do with giving landlords a back-door way of evicting an undesirable tenant.  And since “pit bull” haters continue to maintain that only thugs, drug dealers, and/or minorities own so-called “pit bulls,” you can of course see an eviction may have nothing at all to do with a “pit bull” so much as just back-door racism or classism.

Mr. Edwards went on to ask,

“What is a pit bull? Is it the ‘I know it when I see it’ standard? I don’t think citizens are on notice on what violates this and what doesn’t violate it, and that was never addressed,” he said.

Mr. Edwards is absolutely correct to be asking the question: What is a “pit bull”?  The answer to that question changes daily with some thinking “pit bulls” are only American Pit Bull Terriers, while others think “pit bulls” are a class that includes even mastiffs, while still others believe that “pit bulls” are any well-muscled medium- or large-breed dogs, including Boxers and English Bulldogs, and any combination of these breeds, their mixes, and lookalikes. 

Also, as cities like Denver and Toledo can tell you, even though a piece of legislation may define specific breeds as being so-called “pit bulls,” it does not mean that even their own authorities, including their own Animal Control Officers, can determine what is and is not a “pit bull” as defined by their own ordinances.  So, if cities passing breed-specific legislation cannot even accurately determine what is and is not a “pit bull” as defined by their own ordinances, then how the heck are people in Maryland, including tenants and landlords, supposed to know if they own a “pit bull” or not?  Mr. Edwards refers to the ‘I know it when I see it standard’ which is a standard, if you can call it that, that has historically not withstood legal scrutiny because it has been found to violate owners’ due process rights.  That, and it’s pretty obviously unconstitutionally vague to subscribe to or prescribe the ‘I know it when I see it standard’.”  Again, how in the world can a person be expected to abide by a law that embodies a subjective, constantly-changing standard?

And, as ever, what is the result of any breed-specific law?:

Animal advocates do say that since the Court of Appeals ruling that led to strict liability for pit bulls, more of the dogs have been crowding shelters around the state.

That’s right, the death of innocent dogs who are “guilty” of nothing more than fitting a type; a type that is constantly changing to suit the whims and fancies of a bunch of ruthless doggy killers, racists, and elitists.

 

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