On April 26, the Maryland Court of Appeals rendered a decision in the case of Tracey v. Solesky that says pit bulls and pit bull-mix dogs are inherently dangerous animals.
Previously, and currently for all dogs other than pit bulls, if your dog bit someone you could only be held strictly liable if the dog had bitten someone before--in other words, if you knew the dog was dangerous and didn't take precautions.
Now, if your pit bull or pittie mix dog bites someone, you can be sued because you should have known that the dog was inherently dangerous--it's a pit bull, after all!
Note, this decision does not have a huge impact on you if you own a pit bull and own your own home. As long as your dog doesn't bite anyone, this decision does not affect your right to have a pit bull-type dog.
But it is devastating news for pit bulls not lucky enough to live in homes owned by their lovers and advocates. For those who languish in shelters in Maryland--whose situation was already dire--this decision means death is far more likely.
Shelters and rescues will not want the liability of adopting out an "inherently dangerous" dog, and many landlords will insist at first opportunity (when the lease is up) that pit bull type dogs not be on the premises.
Fortunately, pit bulls have strong advocates in this state and they are working to undo this ruling. For updates, check out the terrific group B-More Dog, the same group that holds monthly pit bull walks in Baltimore. Their Facebook page is being updated regularly with the latest on this ruling, the opposition to it, and what you can do to help.
In the meantime, hug your pit bull and tell him or her that you'll never allow him to be in a situation that puts him in danger. If you live anywhere outside of Maryland, please consider volunteering to transport and foster a pit bull or pittie mix from a MD shelter. Let's save as many lives as we can until this terrible ruling goes away.