Pit bull adopted in Baltimore attacks woman, boys in York

YORK, Pa. - Police in Pennsylvania say a pit bull that was adopted from Baltimore mauled a woman and two of her children.

The attack comes as lawmakers in Annapolis debate, again, whether pit bulls should be considered more dangerous than other dogs.

Last Monday morning, two brothers ages 10 and 11 were playing basketball outside their home in York County, when a neighbor's pit bull attacked.

"Panic is the word. I couldn't even think," said their mother, who taped an on-camera interview but asked that her name not be used.

One of the boys ran inside. Their mother ran out.

"The dog was up on my son's chest, just attacking him," she said.  "So I just ran over and started attacking the dog myself.  And he turned around and started attacking me."

The 11-year-old's injuries are the most serious with several large bites head to toe.

"Honestly I think [the dog] would have killed one of us if he had had the chance," his mother said.  "My older son is going to have scars all over his body.  And I'm going to have a pretty significant scar also."

The neighbor who owned the dog would not comment. Other dogs live in the home, including at least one pit bull.

Pennsylvania State Police said the dog was on a leash but it broke away when it heard the boys playing.

Police said the dog was adopted earlier this month from the BARCS shelter in Baltimore

The shelter's director, Jennifer Brause, would not comment on the specific case but she did say employees and volunteers have extensive contact with every animal before they're adopted out.

"We are not going to knowingly put an animal back into the community that would potentially bite.  So if we know of an animal that has a bite history that is acting aggressive in any way, we would not put that animal back in the community and that animal would be euthanized," she said.

But it is the kind of attack that led Maryland's highest court to rule in 2012 that pit bulls are "inherently dangerous" -- meaning victims of attacks by pit bulls in Maryland don't have to prove the owner or the owner's landlord knew the dog was dangerous in order to win a lawsuit.

Ever since that ruling there have been attempts to change the law -- attempts that have stalled because there are different plans in the House of Delegates and the State Senate.

In general -- the plan passed during a special session in 2012 and again in 2013 would have removed the "inherently dangerous" designation from pit bulls.

The Senate's plan from those sessions would apply the "inherently dangerous" standard to dogs of all breeds.

The BARCS director said she hopes some kind of compromise will happen, because she says singling out pit bulls isn't fair to dogs -- or people.

"Sure -- can a larger dog potentially do more damage than a smaller dog? Potentially yes," she said.  "But we've also seen small dogs that have done some very serious biting to put people in the hospital for long periods of time."

The mother from York County said she'll be keeping an eye on what's happening in Annapolis.  But after the attack last week she says she does believe pit bulls are more dangerous than other dogs.

"Anybody who's ever said to me 'I knew a pit bull who was a friendly pit bull' or 'my friend has one and that one seems fine' I definitely wouldn't believe that anymore," she said.

Opponents say the current law in Maryland isn't fair to pit bull owners -- or people who get bitten by other breeds.

It's also difficult to say exactly what a pit bull is; the head of BARCS said there are breeds ranging from bull-dog to boxer in her shelter -- all of which might be considered pit bulls.

 

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