Pit bull ruling could be back into effect Thursday

Court of Appeals: pit bulls inherently dangerous

The ruling from Maryland's highest court that pit bulls can be considered "inherently dangerous" could go back into effect today.

Shortly after the Court of Appeals of Maryland made that ruling earlier this year, it put a stay on it.

Thursday the judges are expected to announce whether that stay will remain in effect.

Earlier this week state legislators left that ruling in place.  At a special legislative session, the State Senate and House of Delegates had been working on legislation that would have overturned it.  But the two chambers were unable to agree on a bill.

At the BARCS shelter in Baltimore, when new dogs come in, others have to go out, either by adoption -- or euthanasia.

The city's euthanization rate used to be as high as 98% but since the BARCS group took control of the shelter in 2005, it has dropped below 40%.

The shelter's executive director, Jen Brause, says she's worried that number is about to go back up again.  "It could be extremely devastating on pit bulls, pit bull mixes - whatever that may be - on those owners," she said.

The Court of Appeals also ruled that owners and their landlords can be liable for pit bull bites.  Brause says that means owners will be forced to give up their pets.  "What choice do you have?  You either have to get out of your home, move out of the state of Maryland or get rid of your dog," she said.

And she says shelters will be less able to adopt out the pit bulls that come in.

So be it -- says Tony Solesky.  His son Dominic was attacked by a pit bull five years ago.  It's his case that made its way to the Court of Appeals.

"This is really pit bull owners in particular being held to a standard in which the people who are injured like my son was, will now be able to get financial restitution," he said.

Dominic's his injuries were life-threatening; Tony Solesky says the five-year court case proved to him that pit bulls are dangerous -- and the Court of Appeals was right.  "This is about public safety," he said.

He says he hopes the impact of the ruling -- and the legislature's refusal to overturn it -- will lead to fewer pit bull adoptions to irresponsible owners.

"Because the answer is certainly not stowing these dogs away at risk to the public because they have to make the tragic choice between euthanizing a dog, which is horrible, or placing it and then having it possibly being with a bad owner and killing a child," Solesky said.

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