Maryland Tenants Are Forced to Choose Between Losing Their Home or Their Pit Bull

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Many Maryland residents are being forced to choose between keeping their beloved pit bull or keeping their home thanks to a new state law.

Last week, the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld an April decision to make landlords liable for violent pit bulls in their tenant’s care. Since then, many apartment owners have been giving notice to residents that they’ll soon have to make a decision: either to let Fido go, or face possible eviction.

(MORE: Grounded: Bulldogs Banned on Many Airlines Due to Death Risk)

Pit bull owners aren’t happy about the situation. “I was afraid I’m going to have to give up my babies,” Rita Masters told CBS. Several have teamed up with animal groups to defend the ruling.

It has also affected the state’s local animal shelters. The Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter reportedly that more than 30 dogs had been turned in because of the ruling. “These people really have no other option and they’re really, really upset about getting rid of their dogs,” Jennifer Brause, the executive director of the organization, told CBS. “They’re great pet owners.”

(MORE: Can Attack Dogs Be Rehabilitated?)

Another Maryland resident, James Sheeler, summed up his feelings perfectly: “I shouldn’t have to get rid of my dog or choose either between my dog and a place to live.”

Maryland is reportedly the only state that enforces owners to be liable for the actions of a singular dog breed.

Erica Ho is a contributor at TIME and the editor of Map Happy. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

34 comments
matthewkuhns
matthewkuhns

I use to vacation at Deep Creek Lake with my family and would take 2 of my pit bulls while i boarded my other 4. We will no longer be vacationing there. Owners should be responsible for their dogs actions and not the breed as a whole. However!!!! If your dog has never been in any trouble the owner AND the dog should not be punished. I have 6 pit bulls in our family and I have never even had one of mine escape my yard or my home. Nor have they ever so much as looked at anyone the wrong way. Stop judging all pit bulls and every dog with a block head, wide shoulders, and musclular is NOT A PIT BULL!!!

JulieVanDyke
JulieVanDyke

If I had to choose between the two, I would camp outside the State House in Annapolis with my pit, who could leave the lawmakers little "presents' every day on their outside lawn!

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Joanna McGinn
Joanna McGinn

Boo Hoo so sad.  Let's see, YOU CHOSE a type of dog that has a high and ever higher propensity to attack infants, small children, senior citizens, handicapped adults, small pets and large farm animals.... and you snivel about having to give it up?????  What sort of anti-social attitude allows you to have a dog that, while it CAN be 'sweet' and loving for a period of time and then turn and attack your child/relative or even yourself. (Chicago coroner verified that a man's PBs DID kill him and were discovered when his wife opened the door when she came home?  If you REALLY feel sorry for all the dogs in the shelter, why not pick one that is not likely to attack your neighbor?  Thousands are murdered each day simply for the reason that there is no home for them and the communities can not afford to keep them housed and fed forever.  Why don't you save one of THEM?  What is it within your personality matrix that says to the rest of the community where you live:  "to heck with you, to heck with your desire for a safe walk in the evening, to heck with the safety even in your home (Deer Park a PB attacked thru a doggy door TWICE) or even the privilege of raising alpacas and llamas (Exeter VA a neighbor's PBs killed 13 in a horrible slaughter)... and the type of dog is no longer the 40lb exemplar of yesteryear but the PBs of today are 80-100lbs and attacking machines, designed to be stronger and ever more aggressive.  Love is NOT enough to remove generations of deliberate breeding to be aggressive at this point.  

If you are going to live in a community, then you OWE a responsibilty to your neighbor to not bring harm to them.  And if you don't want to rent, then buy.... it's bad enough to buy and own a PB or more. but to ask a landlord who has enough problems to deal with to assume liability for YOUR choice of a dog with a high potential to inflict harm is unethical and unfair.  Most owners of PBs who attack fail to cover the damages they cause and then claim bankruptcy... which is how the Maryland case came to the courts.... an attack on a 6 year old that is including ICU and years of reconstructive surgeries.  Should the hospital have to eat the costs because the family can't pay the dollars for what the dog did to their son?  Ultimately, the whole community is having to absorb and pay for the damages.  Do  you think the doctors, who have bills to pay, should work for free on a mauling caused by someone's dogs?

If you don't like this situation, then what kind of solutions can the apologists for the PBs offer.  If they are not a part of the solution then they are a part of the problem.... a major part of if.  So if you think that other people shouldn't have to face the nightmares of attacks by a PB as well have to pay for someone's negligence in confining the dog.... what might be a part of the solution?  Well????

MDpitsnpolitics
MDpitsnpolitics

Let's see...#1- they DON'T have a higher propensity to attack infants, small children, senior citizens, handicapped adults, small pets, large farm animals, whatever else you want to throw into your obnoxious stereotyping. #2- you are SERIOUSLY one of the most ignorant people. GO EDUCATE YOURSELF. DO SOME RESEARCH. You're sitting bashing people who you know nothing about for the children (yes, those of us who have hearts consider our dogs children I know you don't have a heart amp; don't understand this concept) they have without knowing anything about what you're talking about! And I can tell, because I was almost evicted once, and I DID my research, and proved my apartment complex WRONG because pit bulls are actually NOT any more aggressive, stronger, more likely to attack than other dogs. So please, go educate yourself before you keep talking. You're beng a real jerk calling us names, "anti-social," for the record sweety I probably have a ton more friends than you ever will with an attitude like that and I have TWO pit bulls *GASP*. And I'm sorry that we're not all as rich as you, not everyone can afford to buy homes, that is an incredibly obnoxious and snotty thing to say. The majority of the people who own pit bulls have rescued them, and many of us are incredibly involved in the rescue community and care deeply for these dogs. Your attitude, frankly, is disgusting and disturbing. Would you say we should just kill off this entire breed? Because that's what it sounds like. Are you like Hitler? Kill a whole race? Really? You have real issues. These dogs were raised as Americas babysitters, yes, B-A-B-Y-S-I-T-T-E-R-S. As in, watching babies and childWho turned them in to monsters???? HUMANS. HUMANS WITH EVIL ATTITUDES, LIKE YOU. Educate yourself. Please.

 

Missy Hendrix Butler
Missy Hendrix Butler

Well said MDpitsnpolitics!! 

Ms Joanna, I was attacked by a Dachshund when I was a child, and bitten very badly. Does that mean we should outlaw their breed as well? ANY dog can bite, any breed can be TAUGHT to be mean and aggressive. All dogs want is to please their owners and if the aggressive behavior gets the dog praise and rewards, how do You think they will behave? Human beings created this mess and now everyone wants to blame the dog. When I was growing up I always heard " stay away from Boxers, Dobermans, German Shepherds, Chows, Rottweilers, and Bulldogs because they'll turn on their owners every time". I have personally owned 2 different Chow/ Shepherd mixes, and a Rottweiler/Doberman mix and all three were excellent dogs. My cousin owns boxers and not once has he had issues with his dogs' behavior. It is all about how they are raised and how well they are being teated...seems to me that logic could be applied to humans as well. Please educate yourself before spouting such nonsense, because for every "Pit Bull attack" story the media runs there were Thousands of other dogs that did not bite that day. The media tells you what they consider newsworthy, well how about the Pit bills in therapy programs, or reading programs in schools, aren't they newsworthy? Probably not since they didn't bite anyone. Every dog has the potential of being good or bad, ultimately the humans are in control of that potential. 

Colleen Carrigan
Colleen Carrigan

Here is my petition t the Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley. Please sign and share:

https://www.change.org/petitio...

Joanna McGinn
Joanna McGinn

take your petition to the victims....

Cooney Morgan
Cooney Morgan

Joanna....people die in automobile accidents every day. LETS BAN CARS!!! People die in the OR every day. LETS BAN SURGERY!!! Do you get my point? It's not even really about the dogs. It's about MONEY, INSURANCE COMPANIES, and the dogs inability to speak for itself. Statistically speaking...for every million pits out there, less than 0.002% ever attack anything other than a squeak toy or their dinner. Can you say the same about the stats for automobiles vs. wrecks?

Siara Delyn
Siara Delyn

 You obviously don't know much about pit bulls.  Do you think Elvis rose from the dead too?  Look beyond the tabloids for facts about animals.

baltimoregal
baltimoregal

Worse yet, the law doesn't even really define what a pit bull is (although they changed it to "pure bred pit bull" which is ridiculous). 

MikeyIII
MikeyIII

Simple solution...tell your landlord to F...Off or you'll sic your pitbull on them.

 

fuzzbutt69
fuzzbutt69

Absolutely and insane ruling.  Remember when it used to be you couldn't have rottweiler, then it was a doberman, now its a pittbull.   This is unfair.

Joanna McGinn
Joanna McGinn

try reading the news.... last week alone, 2 deaf women were mauled, over 15 children, on 12 year old was almost castrated by a PB... 3 adults were killed, 13 alpacas 8 llamas, 2 ponies, 1 police patrol horse.... haven't yet counted the policemen attacked by PBs.... yeah... I think the landlords have a right to not rent to people with dangerous dogs... or limit them, as they do where I live to less than 25lbs.  This has already been proven.  

Cooney Morgan
Cooney Morgan

I feel sorry for you. You've been suckered into the media hype on the issue, but enough about the dogs....the real issue here is "rights". Name something you love....now think about the possibility of being told it was being banned, and you would either have to relinquish it or move. If you like having your rights, then don't try taking the rights of others, because next it could be you or someone you care about.

MDpitsnpolitics
MDpitsnpolitics

 Hey, try reading the news: PIT BULL SAVES LADY'S LIFE BY ALERTING HER HUSBAND

http://www.dogheirs.com/elleng...

try reading the news: PIT BULL RISKS LIFE TO SAFE OWNER BY DRAGGING HER OFF RAILROAD TRACKS FROM ONCOMING TRAIN

http://www.dogheirs.com/larne/...

try reading the news: PIT BULL SAVES LADY FROM ABDUCTION BY ESTRANGED HUSBAND WITH LARGE KNIFE

http://www.dogheirs.com/george...

Do you want me to go on? Because I'm sure I and everyone else on here can find you a million stories about HEROIC pit bulls who have done wonderful things. Probably more stories than the ones about the "evil dogs" who attack. But just in case, here's one about an awesome police officer from Baltimore who, when responding to a "vicious dog" call instead of shooting a Pit Bull, saved it, and rescued it! (OMG, you're thinking, he must be crazy! No, he actually just has a heart, unlike you.)

http://modifiedk9.blogspot.ca/...

And to top it all off, here is a Facebook page dedicated to THERAPY PITS. Yes, that's right, Therapy Pits. As in, Pit Bulls that do therapy work, with children. You know, those small children you said pit bulls like to attack?

http://www.facebook.com/Gremli...

So please, go read some REAL news, and educate yourself.

1PrettyPitBull
1PrettyPitBull

First off, real dogs are more than 25 pounds. My cat weighs 30 pounds. I read the news and have not heard these stories you are referring to. Maybe you should stay away from Dogsbite and read a real newspaper.

Eilidh
Eilidh

If you really cared about this issue at all, you would do research on both sides of the issue. As the owner of a sweet, docile 65 lb. Pit Bull all that I ask is that ALL pet owners be held responsible for the actions of their pets. Pit Bulls are born stronger than most dogs which makes it much easier to train them to fight/be aggressive. Sadly, there are many cruel human beings in the world who abuse these dogs and goad them into fighting and being aggressive.  But no one can tell me that when my dog was born, she was born 'inherently dangerous'. We trained her right and she has never so much as nibbled on the furniture. You have a right to your opinion. But saying that sweet, loving pets who have never harmed anyone should be taken away from their owners, or that people should adopt all other breeds and leave the Pits is awful.

BeyondReasonableDoubt
BeyondReasonableDoubt

 Hey Joanna: other then "The National Enquirer", what newspapers do you read?

Siara Delyn
Siara Delyn

 Try reading a reputable news paper.

Cecilia Smith
Cecilia Smith

Considering that the entire state is now pit-bull unfriendly to find a pit bull friendly place to live they would have to either buy a house or move out of Maryland entirely. http://Unlimitedjoys.blogspot....

Siara Delyn
Siara Delyn

The certainly is an anachronistic piece of bs.  Why on earth should landlords have anything to do with this?  It's a state law with OCD.

bertafiable
bertafiable

I don't see how its even possible for a landlord to be responsible for a tenants actions, let alone the tenants dog. ?????????

What kind of so called offical justice is this? (the law that was passed).

How can it be consitutional?

Ohh yea, I guess if a person can sue a restraunt chain because that person spilled coffee on themselves and got burned, by the HOT coffee, and won the law suit, then I guess this foolish law is ok ... NOT!!!

Kendra Mixon
Kendra Mixon

if they are really good dog owners they would not have to think twice about moving. if they are your babies you would not consider giving them up.

fuzzbutt69
fuzzbutt69

Yeah, that is not always an option, your job may be in Maryland.  You have to pay for first and last months rent at a new place, be ready to move quickly, find a place to take you, and your dog, not to mention have all the funds, the abilty to do it physically, find a place, and IF you are lucky, the job there too. 

DarthWhatever
DarthWhatever

 Unfortunately though moving usually means having to pay cleaning fees fore the apartment you're leaving, paying to move (gas and transport), plus transfer fees for utilities, on top of deposits at a new place... assuming you can find one that will allow you and your pit bull.  Considering that the entire state is now pit-bull unfriendly to find a pit bull friendly place to live they would have to either buy a house or move out of Maryland entirely.  In this economy that simply isn't possible for most people.  If anything the best most people would be able to do in this situation is find a new family for their dog rather than taking it to a shelter.

Joanna McGinn
Joanna McGinn

Then don't choose a dog that is going to expose you to such liabilities.  Simple.

BjOffutt
BjOffutt

@Joanna McGinn

According to a 2011 ATTS study, the PB scored in the top 4 for best temperament. The breed scored higher then the Golden Retriever. You're absolutely correct when you wrote we need to find a solution instead of going on and on about it. Stop BREEDING! There are thousands of PB's killed in shelters every year. Slap a fine or threat of jail time on these private breeders and watch how fast things change. You want a PB, go to the shelter and adopt. Breeding them is the real legal issue here. Stop breeding, people then opt to adopt, the burden is then lifted off the shelters and these dogs will live to know what a home is. Solution. Ignorance breeds ignorance lady. If you neglect a rabbit long enough eventually it will maul you too! It's 100% OUR fault. Open your eyes, but most importantly your heart. Next time you have some free time ya know when your not sitting behind a computer running your face .. Stop by a Maryland shelter and take note that its estimated that 85% of the dogs in there will be some sort of PB mix. I am a proud owner of two loyal and loving pit bulls and I couldn't even comprehend getting rid of them. They are my world. Until you see how loyal they are, how there's nowhere in the world they would rather be then cuddled next to their owner snoring or farting lol, how they literally smile when given treats, how they want nothing more then to please the hands that love them and unfortunately the hands that hurt them, until you get to know one your opinion is VOID. Go somewhere else.

BjOffutt
BjOffutt

@Joanna McGinn

According a ATTS study in best temperament, the Pit Bull scored higher then the Golden Retriever. In fact, Pit bulls over all scored in the top 4 best temperament according this study done in 2011. You wrote here to come up with a solution instead of going on and on about it.. Your absolutely right. The solution is STOP BREEDING these dogs when there are thousands that are humanely put down in shelters every year. I am a PROUD owner of two loyal and loving Pit Bulls and I happen to live in Baltimore, Maryland where this law has drastically impacted thousands of lives. Ignorance breeds ignorance Stop breeding and adopt. When was the last time you went to a shelter in Maryland? Have you noticed a majority of the animals there are Pit Bull mixes? Open your eyes, but most importantly YOUR HEART..Instead of doing nothing but sitting behind a computer and running your face about these dogs and how horrible they are. If you neglect a rabbit long enough it will eventually maul you too! Breeding these dogs is the real legal issue here. Slap a fine on private breeders or threaten a jail sentence and watch how fast this BS changes.

MDpitsnpolitics
MDpitsnpolitics

Joanne, seriously, we get that you are a pit hater. THESE DOGS ARE NOT THE PROBLEM. Go educate yourself and stop being just another ignorant twit who believes everything they hear.