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 pit bull 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.
Dr. Heather Myers of the South Arundel Veterinary Hospital in Edgewater said she's treated pit bulls numerous times and disagrees with the court's opinion.
"I don't think [the opinion] should be a breed-specific ruling," Myers said. "The vast majority of the pit bulls I see are very sweet dogs."
Myers said the big issue with pits bulls isn't that they are inherently vicious but that when something bad does happen with a pit bull, the consequences are more severe. The local vet said she puts her face in pit bulls' mouths all the time and still finds them to be very sweet animals.
"Because of the strength these dogs have in their jaws, the possibility for extreme injury or death is more prevalent, but it's just based on the way they're made," she said. "I'm just as likely to get bit by a Chihuahua. But if a pit bull bites me, I'm going to have a bad day. Pit bulls just get a bad rep."
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.
Myers said she sees a fair number of pit bulls at the South Arundel Veterinarian Hospital, and that more and more owners are purchasing dogs that are only "part pit."
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.