The Humane Society of the United States is extremely disappointed in the recent Maryland Court of Appeals decision designating all pit bull-type dogs as inherently dangerous, and holding owners, landlords and anyone in custody of the dog automatically liable regardless of whether it dog poses a threat ("Pit bulls are inherently dangerous, court rules," April 28). This is a backward step for Maryland, and it puts both dogs and people at risk.

A dog's propensity to bite is a product of several factors, including early socialization, living conditions and the owner's behavior — not breed alone. For example, chained and non-neutered dogs are much more likely to bite.

The court's decision will force law-abiding citizens to choose between moving out of Maryland or giving up their beloved dogs. There are already reports of pit bulls being abandoned since the ruling.

Rather than protect public safety, the ruling may force pit bulls who could live safely as beloved family pets to roam Maryland's neighborhoods in packs and force shelters to euthanize them, thus turning back decades of progress by animal shelters and rescue groups.

Public safety policies shouldn't be made by the courts but by the legislature after conducting hearings and considering the available science. We encourage Marylanders to call their state legislators to urge them to pass legislation to overturn this ruling.

Tami Santelli

The writer is Maryland state director of the Humane Society of the United States.