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Blog the Change: Targeting Maryland’s Breed Specific Law

Blog the ChangeThis post is part of Blog the Change, a quarterly event hosted by BTC4Animals.com asking us to share a cause near and dear to our hearts. The idea is to blog, read, and BE the change for animals!

The cause I’d be writing about for this quarter’s Blog the Change was predestined last week when the Maryland legislature failed to vote on a bill that would have superseded the state’s Breed Specific Law. We were surprised to find our blog embroiled in the hurt, disappointment, and outrage that resulted from the lawmakers’ inaction … but once the smoke cleared, I realized that we had a chance to help the people of Maryland abolish a law they never wanted.

The History

In April 2012, a judge presiding over a case in Maryland declared pit bulls “inherently dangerous” and assigned “strict liability” to pit bull owners and third parties who have the ability to control whether pit bulls are allowed on their property (including landlords, veterinarians, kennels, animal shelters, rescue groups, and pet sitters). Strict liability under the law means that, if a pit bull causes an injury, its owner and, potentially, the owner of the property where the injury took place are immediately financially responsible.

The law has caused landlords, condo boards, and home owners’ associations to adopt policies banning pit bulls – forcing families to choose between moving to another state or surrendering their dogs to the shelter, where they will likely be killed. The fallout has been devastating, with shelters overwhelmed, families torn apart, and pit bulls who have never hurt anyone alone, scared, and dying.

Pit bull - Dog in Car

What Can Be Done?

Last Thursday, just after Annapolis, Maryland lost to Carmel, California in the Best City for Pet Travelers tournament, the Baltimore Sun reported that Maryland Delegate Benjamin F. Kramer wrote to Governor Martin O’Malley asking him to call the legislature back for a special session to resolve the issue of how to deal with the unpopular court ruling. (Read the article here.)

In the article, Maryland House Delegate Kathleen Dumais is quoted as saying that it would be hard to explain to the Maryland taxpayers why they should bear the costs of a special session to deal only with the dog issue.

If the cost of a special session is concerning the politicians, let’s remind them that a decline in tourism revenues will be much more expensive!

Please, take three minutes to contact Governor O’Malley’s office and (politely) inform him that you will not be spending your vacation dollars in Maryland until they pass a breed neutral law and stop discriminating against pit bulls or any other breed of dog.

Email the State House – Annapolis, Maryland 
Or call (410) 974-3901 or  1-800-811-8336 (toll free) 
tdd: (410) 333-309

Your communication could be the one that makes the difference for a family faced with losing their best friend. Thank you!

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