The decision, published April 26 in the case captioned Dorothy M. Tracey v. Anthony K. Solesky, sends the case back to the Circuit Court for retrial under the new standard. In the past, a bite victim would have to show that the person who had control of the dog knew the dog was vicious and failed to take adequate measures to prevent the bite. Proving that usually required the victim to find evidence that the dog had bitten someone before—and that the defendant knew that.
The law now says: "When an attack involves pit bulls, it is no longer necessary to prove that the particular pit bull or pit bulls are dangerous." It applies not only to the dogs' owners, but to any person who "had the right to control the pit bull's presence"—i.e., the land lord. This could have profound implications not just for slumlords, but also for animal shelters, rescue volunteers (and their landlords), animal hospitals and veterinarians. (Hat Tip: Hayley Nethen) UPDATE: The Humane Society Weighs in The Humane Society of the United States Responds to Maryland Court of Appeals' Decision Regarding Pit Bull Dogs (April 28, 2012) The Humane Society of the United States will work with Maryland dog advocates and members of the legislature to develop rational, science-based dangerous dog policies for the state after the Maryland Court of Appeals issued a decision fundamentally changing longstanding liability rules relating to pit bull and mixed pit bull dogs. Betsy McFarland, vice president of The Humane Society of the United States' companion animals department, issues the following statement: "In addition to our general concerns about the issues with breed-specific public policies, we believe that the court overstepped its authority. The decision acknowledged it was 'modifying the Maryland common law of liability.' A seismic shift in Maryland law of this nature should be undertaken by the legislature, not judges. The legislature should conduct appropriate fact-finding and hearings, consider the available science, and make a measured, non-emotional decision on this important policy issue. We encourage advocates to call their state legislators to respectfully voice their concerns, and urge them to work with advocates on legislation in the next session that provides rational, science-based dangerous dog policies for the state. The Humane Society of the United States' companion animals department is in communication with shelters and rescues, and will be looking for ways to support them as they consider the ramifications of this decision." For more information about pit bulls, go here. Facts: