Federal judge upholds MD pit bull law

Attorney plans to appeal

Animal advocates hoping to overturn Maryland's controversial "pit bull" law have hit a setback -- A federal judge has ruled that it can stand.

The law stems from a Court of Appeals ruling that found that if a pit bull bites you, you can sue the owner -- and his or her landlord -- and you're very likely to win even if the pit bull hasn't bitten anyone before.

That has led many landlords to not allow tenants to own pit bulls.

Last year the operators of the Armistead Gardens Apartments began eviction proceedings against a long-time tenant who owns a pit bull.

The owner sued in federal court.

"They go round-about trying to say they're trying to stop people from being attacked, but what they're really doing here is getting people evicted," said Charles Edwards, the tenant's attorney.  He plans to appeal the ruling to the 4 th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.

 "What is a pit bull? Is it the ‘I know it when I see it' standard?  I don't think citizens are on notice on what violates this and what doesn't violate it, and that was never addressed," he said.

Animal advocates do say that since the Court of Appeals ruling that led to strict liability for pit bulls, more of the dogs have been crowding shelters around the state..

Amanda Librizzi says of Carroll County that's why she adopted a pit bull mix from the BARCS shelter on Monday.

"I'm very familiar with dogs, and I just think it's ignorance I think people stereotype dogs," she said.

Efforts to overturn the Court of Appeals ruling have failed in the General Assembly as well.

A bill in the Senate would have extended "strict liability" to all dogs, not just pit bulls.

The House of Delegates version would have gotten rid of strict liability altogether, and the two chambers have not been able to come up with a compromise.

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