A few short weeks ago, B-More Dog and Jasmine's House brought you the documentary, Behind the Myth, about Breed Specific Legislation. Little did we know that the following month, the entire state of Maryland would be blind-sided with a court ruling affecting "pit bulls" and "pit bull crosses." Everyone at B-More Dog has been feeling shock, anger and fear in light of this new "pit bull" law in Maryland.
As you probably know, last week the Maryland Court of Appeals issued an opinion in the Tracey v. Solesky case which determined pit bull dogs to be "inherently dangerous" and subject to strict liability. There's been much confusion about what this means, who it affects and what can be done to change it. B-More Dog has been working nonstop to bring you these answers.
Pauline Houliaras, B-More Dog's President and a Founding Member, appeared on WBAL and WJZ news in the past week, as well as on several WBAL AM radio shows and was interviewed for the Baltimore Sun and other local newspapers.
In the coming days and weeks, B-More Dog will be sending out official Calls to Action. While there are several organizations and many people working on this issue, B-More Dog is following the guidance of those directly involved in this case. B-More Dog has been in touch the best and the brightest people, both locally and nationally, who fight breed discrimination. We remain confident that Breed Discrimination Laws will be defeated in Maryland and we are preparing for the marathon battle ahead.
There is a "Rally to Support Dog Owners Across Maryland" in the works PLUS an online virtual rally you can participate in from home. Please be patient as the experts help us craft the message we want to send consistently and with a unified voice.
Feel free to right-click and save the Stop Breed Discrimination Law logos featured at the top and bottom of this newsletter for your facebook avatar or timeline cover photo. We will also have stickers (and more!) available at the Baltimore Humane Society's Paws on Parade event on May 12. See sidebar more info on this event.
Thank you so much for your support! We need you now more than ever! .
Pauline Houliaras, Jen Mills Denning, Dianne Matteson, Ann Coleman and Erin Scott
Background of the Tracey v. Solesky Court Decision
In 2007, 10 year old Dominic Solesky was bitten by a pit bull that escaped out of its yard. Shortly after this incident a Baltimore County councilman introduced Breed Specific Legislation that would have required pit bulls to be muzzled in public, among other restrictions.
What's interesting is that B-More Dog actually formed in response to this incident. The Founding Members of B-More Dog met at a rally to protest this proposed law and were successful in preventing the proposed law from being passed. With the momentum going, B-More Dog was formed to promote responsible dog ownership to prevent more incidents like this from happening.
However, the Solesky family filed a civil lawsuit in 2008 against the owners of the pit bull and the landlord of the property on which the dogs were kept. In 2009, the Circuit Court for Baltimore County ruled that the landlord, Mrs. Tracey, could not be held (monetarily) responsible for the dog bite because there was no way that Mrs. Tracey, the landlord, could have known that the dog was "dangerous".
The Solesky family appealed this decision to the Court of Special Appeals which found in favor of the Solesky family.
Then, the landlord's insurance company, asked the Maryland Court of Appeals - the highest court in the state - to hear the case. This is the decision which was issued last week and changed the law in the state of Maryland.
What does this mean?
More Frequently Asked Questions
Is this is new law the same as Breed Specific Legislation?
This is a Breed Discriminatory Law, because it holds "pit bulls" and "pit bull mixes" to a different standard in civil court cases, but is not legislation passed your elected officials. This law is the result of a ruling by the highest court in Maryland.
Is this the same as a breed ban, like in Prince George's County?
This new law does not ban pit bulls. It only affects you if your pit bull bites someone and you get sued.
Does this mean my pit bull will be automatically euthanized if it bites someone?
This law only affects you if you are sued in court. Your city/county Animal Control Administrative Procedures stay the same. Check your City/County's website if you have questions about this process.
I'm a renter, how does this law affect me?
The HSUS put together some great information about Maryland renters, which you can find here.
If you have questions about your personal situation, you should seek advice from an attorney.
Can this law be changed?
YES. There are still some legal options which have not been exhausted. As more information becomes available, B-More Dog will let you know.
Also, your elected officials in the Maryland General Assembly can pass a law to undo this court decision. B-More Dog will keep you informed about efforts to contact your lawmaker. The HSUS has some great info here.
What Can I Do?
B-More Dog is working with attorneys and public relations professionals to bring you the most effective ways to reach your elected officials.
There is a "Rally to Support Dog Owners Across Maryland" in the works PLUS an online virtual rally you can participate in from home. Keep checking Facebook and your Inbox as we will be sending out information soon!
In the mean time, now is the time to volunteer with your local shelter, rescue organization and B-More Dog. If you have time to walk dogs at BARCS, or space in your home to foster a dog for Jasmine's House, AAHA, Mid-Atlantic Bully Buddies or Baltimore Bully Crew, it will make a HUGE difference to the dogs and the organizations being flooded with the influx of dogs being relinquished. YOU can make a difference.
But most importantly, now and always...
BE A RESPONSIBLE
PIT BULL OWNER
If your pit bull never bites someone, then this law will never affect you.
- Set up your dog for success by not giving him/her the opportunity to fail. Know your dog's limitations.
- Provide exercise and mental stimulation for your dog on a daily basis.
- Have your dog spayed or neutered. Intact dogs are statistically much more likely to be involved in a bite incident. B-More Dog is happy to offer FREE spay/neuter for pit bulls through our partnership with Animal Advocates of Howard County. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
- Keep your dog leashed when in public. Not only is this the law, but it prevents your dog from taking off after a child running down the street, the neighbor's dog or a squirrel in the wrong place at the wrong time. Check your dog's walking equipment to make sure it is well-fitted, sturdy and appropriate for the temperament of your dog.
- Make sure your fence is secure. Check your fence for any areas that might need reinforcement, where your dog might be able to go under, over or through the fence. Don't leave your dog in the yard unattended.
- Supervise your dog's interactions with children. Dogs and children usually get along just fine. But children don't always know to leave the dog alone when sleeping or eating or there could be a misunderstanding about a toy.
- Brush up on your dog's training. B-More Dog President and Resident Trainer, Pauline Houliaras is happy to offer a low cost training class Pit Bull Academy because "every dog deserves an education". Check B-More Dog's website for our other favorite pit bull-friendly trainers in the area. But you can work with your dog at home any time. Commands like "Stay," "Leave It," and "Drop It" can help prevent many unfortunate circumstances. Animal Farm Foundation has some great training videos and handouts here.
May Pit Bulls on Parade
Sunday, May 20
Rash Field, Inner Harbor, Baltimore
Show the City of Baltimore and the State of Maryland what a REAL pit bull looks and acts like- loyal friend, treasured companion, well-behaved family member!
This month's theme is the All-American Dog, so deck out your dog in a patriotic bandana or collar!
If this is your first Parade or you need a refresher, click here for the Guidelines.
PINS FOR PITS
Join us on Saturday May 19 from 5-7 PM for Pins for Pits, a family-friendly bowling fundraiser at Country Club Lanes, 9020 Pulaski Highway, Baltimore, MD (next to Martin's East and across from Harley-Davidson of Baltimore).
Advance ticket purchase is strongly recommended through Paypal to email@example.com or contact us by email for other payment options. We hope to see you there.
All proceeds to benefit B-More Dog's Community Pit Bull Day outreach and humane education programs.
B-More Dog would like to thank our awesome Lane Sponsors!
Aunt Erika's Pet Sitting, Inc.
Signs by Tomorrow - Downtown Baltimore
Visit B-More Dog at Baltimore
Saturday, May 12, 2012
10 AM - 2 PM
1601 Nicodemus Road
B-More Dog will have new stickers on Sat. May 12, and more Stop Breed Discrimination in MD gear available. Plus, get your Pins for Pits tickets!
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