Apartment complex threatens to remove residents who keep pit bulls

Resident files federal lawsuit

We are seeing one of the first tangible impacts of a ruling earlier this year by Maryland's highest court, which labeled pit bulls "inherently dangerous" and found that landlords can be sued if a tenant's pit bull bites someone.

Earlier this month a letter was sent to every resident of the Armistead Gardens apartment complex in East Baltimore.

It reads in part -- "If you have a pit bull or cross-bred pit bull mix, you must get rid of the animal immediately."

An attorney representing one of those residents, Joe Wiegel, says Wiegel has no plans to getting rid of his dog, and that's left him with no option but to go to court.

"Absolutely not," said the attorney, Charles Edwards.  "He considers it a part of his family."

Wiegel's housing options are limited.  "A lot of these people are low income or no income families that are relying on Armistead Homes for shelter and they couldn't go out into the open market and get a home because they couldn't afford it," Edwards said.

He has filed a lawsuit in federal court, arguing that Wiegel's right to due right to due process is being violated, and that his property is being unfairly taken from him.

"What may be in the interest of the community may be to ban pit bulls and anything that looks like a pit bull so they don't have a financial judgment issued against them," Edwards said.  "But they do that understanding that it's not in the best interest of each of the individuals who will be homeless."

That ruling from the Maryland Court of Appeals applies statewide, so Armistead Gardens is the first apartment complex to reveal plans to get rid of all pit bulls, but it is unlikely to be the last.

Edwards says he'll decide later this month whether to file an injunction to try and stop the complex from implementing the removal of pit bulls there while his lawsuit goes forward.

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