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baltimoresun.com

There are lots of good pit bulls

6:13 PM EDT, April 30, 2012

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I usually enjoy Dan Rodricks' columns, even when I don't fully agree with them. This one — about the recent Maryland Court of Appeals decision deeming any "pit bull" or "pit bull mix" dog to be inherently dangerous — I simply find dismaying ("Pit bulls: Own one at your risk," April 30).

I live in the Pigtown neighborhood of Baltimore. When my suburban friends come visit, they hold their kids close, and they look askance at some of my more "unusual" neighbors. Some of them are only too happy to hop back in their cars and scurry back to the counties. To them it's "obvious" that Baltimore is a dangerous place, with all the derelict buildings and the homeless people and the occasional addict passed out on the sidewalk.

But I live here. I know and adore my neighbors (well, most of them). I have the sense not to walk down Washington Boulevard by myself in the dark while distractedly talking on a cell phone. But I feel very, very safe here. My neighbors notice when someone's car hasn't moved in a day or two, or when a smoke detector is going off. Some of the people I pass on the sidewalks probably are criminals or addicts, but they're still usually quite polite and will smile and say hello to me when I pass.

I'm also a pit bull owner — an accidental one, because I found mine starving and scared, running down Wicomico Street dragging a leash behind him. I caught him and brought him home because that's what any decent dog lover would do. Then I found out how incredibly, incredibly difficult it is to rehome these dogs — because of the stigmas, and because there are just so many of them.

I had only limited experience with the breed before mine chose me, but I have discovered that they are wonderful, wonderful dogs, incredibly smart and ridiculously affectionate. Some of them need more work than others, but anyone who says they're "inherently" dangerous has obviously never met a good one. And there are lots of good ones.

But if all you see when you look at them are the cropped ears and the muscular bodies and all the teeth — regardless of whether or not they're showing off that famous pit bull smile — and because of the way they look decide they're not worth getting to know, you're just as ignorant as all the suburbanites who think Baltimore is nothing but vacant houses and drug dealers.

Erin Harty, Baltimore