Pit bull bill to be debated in Annapolis

House vote expected later this week

Maryland's House of Delegates will once again take up the debate over pit bulls on Tuesday.

Last year, the Court of Appeals, Maryland's highest court, ruled dogs considered "pit bulls" are inherently dangerous.

At a dog park in Baltimore County, owners have a bone to pick with that.

"Any owner should be responsible for their pet and make sure they use discretion when they're letting their pet off leash," said Jenny Eddinger of Baltimore County.

Legislators in the House of Delegates and State Senate appear to agree, and now they believe they've put together a bill that would declare all dogs inherently dangerous.  That means the meaning the victim of a dog bite -- by any breed -- could sue the dog's owner.

The House will debate the bill first, starting Tuesday.

"I think that any dog that's not properly trained and whose owner doesn't take precautions can be a dangerous dog, regardless of breed," said Susan Detwiler of Baltimore County.

The owner could defend him or herself in court.

The bill would also make it easier for renters to own pit bulls and other dogs; landlords could only be sued by the victim of a dog bite if the victim can prove the landlord should have known the dog was dangerous.

The dog owners we spoke with say all the debating wouldn't be necessary, if every new owner stuck with some old tricks.

"I keep her on a leash unless she's in a park like this where she can run free," Detwiler said.

A Senate committee has also passed a version of the pit bull bill.

During last year's Special Session the House and Senate could not agree on a bill, which is why the Court of Appeals ruling remains in effect.

This time both sides say they believe they have bills they can agree on; after Tuesday's debate, House members say they expect to vote on their version of the bill later this week.

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