Maryland Criminal Lawyer Colleen Kirby on What New Legislation Could Mean For Maryland Pit Bull Owners

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Criminal lawyer and pit bull owner Colleen Kirby on the ramifications of a new law

A recent court decision on the nature of pit bulls has begun to have dramatic impacts on the lives of some owners in the state of Maryland. After the state high court ruled that the breed is inherently dangerous, some owners have been evicted from their homes while shelters are also having trouble keeping up with the amount of dogs they are put in charge of, according to the ABA Journal.

According to Colleen Kirby Attorney at Law, this new ruling will have an effect in Maryland’s “one bite rule.” This law has been set up to benefit the owners of dogs that have never given any indication of violent behavior if they are involved in an incident with a human. In such cases, the burden of proof is on the victim to show that the dog’s owner had a reason to take precaution. If this new ruling stands, pit bull owners will not be afforded that same privilege.

Ms. Kirby owns several pit bulls herself, and explains how the law might effect her. “I’ve had my first rescue for five years now, she’s never been aggressive towards anyone, she’s never bit anyone and I have no reason to believe that she ever would. But if for some reason she does, I don’t get the advantage of that one-bit exception, because she is a pit bull.”

Attempts by state lawmaker Heather Mizeur to have the decision overturned have been unsuccessful, but there has been a motion to reconsider, which will at least delay the effects of the decision, according to the ABA.

The decision stems from a case about a pit bull that escaped containment and attacked two boys in one day. The boy who suffered the more serious injuries was in the hospital for 17 days and needed a year to fully recover.

The language of the new law that is particularly troubling for pit bull owners is that a landlord could be held liable if a pit bull owned by one of their tenants attacks someone, regardless of the dog or if it had any history of being violent. The court ruled that pit bulls had a violent nature, according to the ABA.

The landlord would be subject to a prima facie case, meaning that the concept of a pit bull potentially attacking someone should be self-evident. That could be big trouble for landlords that rent to pit bull owners, which means that many owners are finding a very difficult time finding housing.

Because of the motion to reconsider, the law will not go into effect until the court has had the opportunity to review their decision. At that point, life becomes difficult for the owners of pit bulls, which means that a lot of dogs could be given up to shelters. It will be difficult for shelters to handle the influx of pit bulls they are likely to see if this ruling stands. It could also mean tough times ahead for the dogs themselves, as fewer good homes are likely to adopt one if some of their liberties will be restricted, according to the ABA.

Please contact us or visit our Maryland criminal lawyer site for more information on that office and the services it provides.

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Jordan Ruby
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