Maryland Task Force to Consider Pit Bull Legislation

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A controversial April court ruling finding pit bulls to be more dangerous than any other dog will now be considered by a legislative task force, as reported by the Washington Post on Thursday.

The decision by Maryland legislative leaders to investigate was determined on Wednesday and will look into the possible effects of the ruling on dogs and their owners in Maryland.

Here's a look at some of the details regarding the ruling, the task force, and Maryland bit pulls and their owners.

* Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch sent a letter to Governor Martin O'Malley to announce the joint task force.

* The decision regarding Tracey v. Solesky by Maryland's highest court, the Court of Appeals, determined that pit bulls were inherently more dangerous than other breeds of dogs in response to a case from Baltimore County in which a 10-year old boy was attacked by a dog. The pit bull, a neighbor's dog, mauled the boy in 2007.

* The AP indicates that a 10-member task force will review the decision and has been chosen from members of the Senate and the House of Delegates.

* Maryland is the only state to officially consider pit bulls and pit bull-type dogs as dangerous.

* The Humane Society of the United States issued a press release on Wednesday applauding the decision of Busch and Miller to appoint the task force. Maryland State Director Tami Santelli stated that the Humane Society feel the court decision hurts all dogs and their owners which may find themselves on the street, and warned that "pet-related businesses and jobs will suffer."

* Dog owners fear their animals will also be put down, the Baltimore Sun reports. Under the ruling, it will be easier to hold pit bull owners liable for any damages their animal may cause without considering the animal's prior behavior.

* The task force may consider legislative remedies to remedy any potential issues relating to the 4-3 court ruling. Democratic leaders want to be prepared to address concerns by the anticipated July 9 special session. However, there is no timetable for the task force to finish its work.

* Pit bulls have been a banned breed in Prince George's County since 1996. Animals found in the county are euthanized or transferred out of county to government shelters.

Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and lives near Washington, D.C., in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

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