Are Pit Bulls Dangerous by Nature? Court Says Yes

The Maryland Court of Appeals has ruled that owners of pit bulls are liable for damages caused by attacks by the breed.

If your pit bull attacks someone, don't expect much sympathy in court. An opinion recently released by the Maryland Court of Appeals states that you should have already known the breed was dangerous.

Maryland owners are now facing increased liability in attack cases, following a ruling in Tracey v. Solesky. The case involved a pit bull named Clifford that attacked a minor, causing life-threatening injuries. 

"When an attack involves pit bulls, it is no longer necessary to prove that the particular pit bull or pit bulls are dangerous," wrote Judge Dale R. Cathell in the opinion.

Cathell also stated that landlords have the right to prohibit pit bulls or pit bull cross-breeds from their property.

A PDF of the opinion is attached in the media gallery.

The opinion cited a series of cases involving vicious attacks by pit bulls, as well as expert evaluations and national statistics, according to a WBAL TV News report

Aileen Gabbey, executive director of the Maryland SPCA, claimed the ruling could lead to fewer adoptions of pit bulls, ABC 2 News reported.

Is it fair for the court to designate pit bulls as inherently dangerous? How accountable should dog owners be held in attack cases? Tell us in the comments.

Karl Schuub May 02, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Dennis - it's well known by now that in several instances of pit bull attacks people have beat them with bats, etc., with little or no reaction other than to continue to maul a child or another person's pet. The idea that a leash solves all problems isn't realistic - these dogs are immensely strong. Totally agree with every other point you make - there are lots of people who shouldn't own big dogs. Seems to me the ownership of attack breeds should be the exception rather than the norm; and with the majority of abandoned dogs being pits it's become the norm. Watch this video and tell me these dogs don't have something different in the way they attack which makes them inherently more dangerous. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEvchS9Solw
Karl Schuub May 02, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Interesting watch the physicality of this dog. It's not just the fact that it seems to be intent on getting this "thing" which can be true of terriers as well, but the size and strength of this grip to go minutes suspended by a rope thrashing back and forth much like an alligator. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B0UsqWaSSE&feature=related
Dennis Gilpin May 03, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Karl, My point is that the dogs should not be walked by someone who can't control them. This happens all too often or the dogs are not properly contained.The dog has the abilty to do tremendous harm and their owners can't take it lightly. I walked Great Danes who weighed up to 225Lbs and have the ability to really pull you if they want to. They were trained not to.The dogs who do the damage were kept by people who shouldn't of had them in the first place.Unfortunately ,these very people put the public in danger. Besides getting hefty fines they should get jail time.After that not being able to own a dog.
PMM49 May 03, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Please post the studies that show that other breeds kill and maim disproportionately to the presence in the overall dog population. Again, we are not talking about the incidence of dog bites, or the propensity of a certain dog breed to bite (CDC). When talking about killings and maiming, the simple fact is that those incidences are statistically much more likely to involve pit bull type dogs.
Joan Wood May 03, 2012 at 03:24 AM
This is so stupid. Years ago my family lived next door to a woman that owned a boxer.......his name was Lance. This dog attacted his family members with the blessing of his owner......several times I witnessed family memers being attached by this dog.......the womans husband would hide in the basement stairwell, because the woman was mad at him and had the dog attach him.........on one occasion I saw the daugher try to leave the yard and the dog attached her to the point of tearing off her coat in the dead of winter..........it all comes down to how the animal is raised and treated....pretty much like humans...........this is total BS if you ask me.....WAY too many people claiming it's the animals fault when it's nothing more than greedy people trying to make a buck on a poor animails misery..........YES.....owners need to be held accounatable for the actions of their pets.......but ALL amimals must be invluded...........as well as ALL breeds......all can be trained to kill...not just pit bulls.......I find it appaling that they are targeting this breed because of some REALLY bad people taking advantanage.........especially....when several people have reported their pets missing from their yards only to find their pets have been, starved and forced into this behavior......TOTALLY ACCEPTABLE from all concerned!
John Dough May 03, 2012 at 07:12 AM
BLACK PEOPLE BEWARNED!!! First it's BSL then RSL (race specific legiation). They saw the shelters are full of pits so they must be a problem with the breed. Well look around the jails, mostly black. A problem with the race? NO a problem with the laws and how they r enforced. Watch that this doesnt turn into Nazi Germany, and we start rounding up blacks for the gas chamber because some black individual killed someone. Or some Chinese guy kills someone. Write your congressmen and ask for a repeal of these ridiculous laws before whole races are rounded up and put on a train to Auschwitz to be put to death because one member of a race commits a crime. Be warned and support the Baltimore no kill shelters.
Tony Solesky May 03, 2012 at 10:46 AM
John Dough You better stop right now with comparing animals and humans. If you watch the hearing on the web in the highest court in Maryland Jan 9 2012 they do not repeat do not allow and in fact as me despise the comparision. I dont like and they most certainly dont like people elevating their pets to human stature. In my book I talk about this as the single biggest problem. They arre dogs and not children period. Thank God the court saw this if nothing else
Tony Solesky May 03, 2012 at 11:08 AM
You don’t elevate your point or your dog by comparing it to humans and racial profiling in the eyes of the court. What you do, Is show them where the train left the track. It is called anthropomorphosis. You don’t breed humans, leash them, sell them, own or master them and you don’t have a biting and mauling problem with humans, These are traits and behaviors decidedly inhuman and yes it is the biggest part of what is wrong with what people think is the correct way to treat an animal. Just do what you do with kids right. The road to good intentions is as big a part of the problem as cruelty to animals. Anything that needs that to be suitable is not human. Dogs are mans best friend and when you treat them for what they are you have the best of both worlds
Karl Schuub May 03, 2012 at 12:08 PM
So you think that additional penalties or financial accountability for people that chose to own aggressive dogs is the same as rounding up blacks for death camps? Then some random comment about no kill shelters...I know how you might solve the problem; heck all you no kill folks have such great ideas. Why don't you join with the cat people and we can release all the pit bulls held in shelters into our parks and forests...maybe out behind a MacDonalds or something then one of you can go leave food out for them. It'll be like a series of little pit bull families seeded all over Maryland. Of course they'll be fixed so it's the most reponsible thing to do......
Able Baker May 03, 2012 at 05:24 PM
The killing is frequently the only thing that's verified. They're collected from news reports, and the news doesn't have much interest in verifying the breed in a story. Neither do the cops. When a closer investigation is made, most breed identifications don't hold up. http://nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/dogbites/dog-bite-related-fatalities/
Able Baker May 03, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Other than raising insurance premiums, excluding people from housing and lowering the standard of proof in a court of law, you're right, it doesn't affect pit bull owners. It does, however, make it much easier for people to sue landlords, which have deeper pockets than your average dog owner.
Able Baker May 03, 2012 at 05:35 PM
It's pretty obvious this is about compensation. Why sue some schmoe when you can sue a landlord?
Able Baker May 03, 2012 at 05:37 PM
No comment on the legislation? Crickets?
Able Baker May 03, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Right, but lets be honest. It's more about being able to sue someone with deeper pockets, i.e the landlord. You're extrapolating this behavior to a reasonable person. The owner of this dog is very clear a scumbag who threatened a child after his dog bit him, then refused to help another child.
Able Baker May 03, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Dogs kill fewer people than lightning strikes.
Able Baker May 03, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Nonsense. Pit bulls are relatively small dogs. They top out at 70 lbs max, or about the size of a laborador. The idea that a dog that size is uncontrollable is ridiculous.
FastDog May 04, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Protector? Do tell!
Chelsea Danger May 08, 2012 at 12:10 AM
It's all about how Pitbulls are raised, I have met some very nice ones so it really depends!
Chris T August 18, 2012 at 03:33 PM
In response to Able Baker, sure, there's no evidence that a pit bull's jaw is any stronger than your average Chihuahua. No evidence at all. Here's some anecdotal evidence: A friend of mine had a large pit bull, a very friendly dog by all accounts. But he was able to bite the knot off of one of those large rawhide bones in about 10 seconds. I have a border collie that has to work on one for about 2 hours before she is able to bite the end off. I know which one I would rather have attack me!
Chris T August 18, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Maybe so, but if my Border Collie decides to bite my 100lb wife one day when I'm not home, I'm pretty sure it won't be able to kill her. I am pretty sure that she would not be able to defend herself against a pit however.
Chris T August 18, 2012 at 03:40 PM
How many people have died from cocker spaniel bites?
Tony Solesky August 18, 2012 at 04:16 PM
All dogs are what they are by heredity, that is what breed means. Forget vicious they are fighting dogs and as such have a shape size and mental make up created to be best used for fighting to the death. A gun is inherently dangerous. You cannot train away a dogs heredity if you have a beagle he will wnat to hunt you can control weather or not you let him out to hunt but you can't remove his hunt. Pit Bulls where never breed even to be family pets anyone that tells you different does not know why you have only really seen them for the last 35 years. That happened because some caring people in animal rescue for years would recover dogs from all kinds of situations including house fires and Police raids. When criminals started using these fighting dogs for gaurd work many were and still are captured in raids. So where did they take them where they always have to the rescue and animal shelter? And what did these loving non expert people assume. They assumed it was or had been breed or has any history as a pet. They do not Nanny dog is a myth they are banned in England. they where never ever breed to be pets. I will go to any rescue and openly debate anyone or on TV and radio to tell you this is happening because those of you who support Pit Bulls are deadly wrong and many of you are just so damn safe that just like a gun in a safe your pit will never harm. Females are 70% less likely to be vicious among all dog breeds. Females as with most all dogs are to carry the Genes.
Tony Solesky August 18, 2012 at 04:50 PM
She dedicated her life to dogs and animal rescue. No bad owner here. She is the best example of everything that those that promote dangerous dogs advocate for and her dogs did exactly what they where bred to do. Reality (-) Preception (=) Fate No matter what her heart was in the right place and she was a good human being trying to do what she thought was right. I feel so sorry for her poor parents and loved ones. If you are reading this you still have a chance to do something about this. http://www.newsday.com/news/woman-who-rescued-animals-is-killed-in-dog-attack-1.3910890
phil w. August 21, 2012 at 01:04 PM
I own a pitbull, she is a very gentle, intelligent, life loving family pet, she would never bite any family member for 2 reasons, she has been loved and the family doesn't do anything that might provoke her, you can teach any breed to be aggressive, however like any other dog she will protect her territory, that's just in their nature whenever someone comes over that I'm afraid she might bite, I simply remove the threat, I put her in the kennel, age shouldn't and wouldn't play a factor in her biting someone, if you come in my house uninvited you deserve what you got coming from her, bottom line is to be responsible, love your pet and keep her and the loved ones around you outta harms way by treating them right and educating the other people and family members, all dogs have different temperments, learn yours and treat it appropriately. Phil
Tony Solesky August 21, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Phil, that is the difference between inhernetly dangerous and responsible ownership one does not imply that the other can't be done safely and responsibly. It simply means that because of the inherent make up of the dog you must do the things that you do or suely left to its own devices it will pose a substantial danger. That said not all dogs are inherently dangerous and not all can be made agressive. In fact their are many more breeds of dogs that will become more timid with aggressive training that is also by heredity.
Ashley August 21, 2012 at 01:50 PM
I was at a cookout over my friend's house this past weekend, she has a pit. Sweetest dog ever, she's never had any issues with the dog until this weekend. Her pit and her other dog got into a fight over a drip pan and the pit immediately lunged for the other dogs throat. Had the other dog by the neck and kept trying to swing her around by it. The other dog just kept trying to get away, wasn't really attacking her pit, just defending. It was violent and frightening to watch, not to mention it took several men to break them apart. They can be the nicest dogs, but they have killing instincts whether some people want to admit it or not. It just takes the right circumstances to bring it out.
Julia Yarnall August 27, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Jane, You're an idiot. Sincerely, A long time pit owner
Tony Solesky August 27, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Brian, repost the question you are talking about from Chris. I actually took it the Chris suported my view and was giving and wxample of why it is a good ruling. In addition my answer was just replace the word Blame with responsiblity. I thought that was a complete anwser. As far as money you have no way of knowing what my sons ionjuries cost us. So you have know way of responding to anything other then what you imagine is my motivation. As far as Public safety no one has paid any money I know of as a result of the ruling and I did give a complete layout of a placement policy which I have submitted to state local and county officals as far back as 4 and 1/2 years ago. The money in my suit is all about compelling people toward safety as you cannot show any proactive example of the disscussion on this level until I brought and one suit. Again what are you doing about it? Brook animal agression is not a favorable trait to someone who love their pets and far more pets are injured and killed each year then humans. Also it is ridiculous to assume that regalar Pit Bulls are human agressive but rather that when they are triggered to bite as with APBT they will bite to kill man women or beast. As far as any and all comments yes I put them out there and of course your sense of what I mean reflects as much on you as what I say reflects on me. So again what are you doing to get things fixed?
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