Maryland Court Of Appeals Pit Bull Decision: Colleen Kirby Expresses Support Of Disenting Opinion

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The Maryland Court of Appeals upheld a decision to exclude pit bulls from their one bite rule.

Colleen Kirby Attorney at Law would like to express her support of Maryland Court of Appeals judges Harrell, Greene and Barbera in their dissenting opinion of the decision issued in Tracey Vs. Solesky, September term No. 53. The court ruled in favor of a previous decision excluding pit bulls from the state’s “One Bite Rule” that helps protect owners of dogs that have attacked someone without showing prior signs that they were dangerous or aggressive.

In the dissenting opinion, which can be found at Leagle, Judge Greene wrote.

“Given the nature of the extensive social problem of regulating pit bulls and mixed-breed pit bulls, the majority elects to focus on the breed of the dog involved, rather than on the behavior of the dog, the owner, and the landlord. The issues raised involving breed-specific regulation are not appropriate for judicial resolution; rather, those issues are best resolved by the Maryland General Assembly, as that branch of government is better equipped to address the various issues associated with regulation of pit bulls and mixed-breed pit bulls.”

Ms. Kirby believes that pit bulls, by nature, are no more dangerous than any other breed of dog. They are, however, subject to harsher conditions on a more consistent basis, and that it is those factors that lead to attacks. She also feels that pit bulls are a victim of negative publicity, as the likelihood that the media would pay attention to a pit bull attack are much higher than if an attack were committed by any other breed.

“The press is telling people that they do not want to report dog bites, unless it involves the pit bull,” says Ms. Kirby, “because what grabs people's attention? Pit bull attacks young child. Pit bull attacks neighbor down the street. It doesn't grab everyone's attention when a Cocker Spaniel mauls a neighbor's child. So, they're only interested in what's going to get them ratings, and what gets them ratings is throwing out the word "pit bull" and "attack" in the same sentence.”

The decision issued by the Court of Appeals could have significant affects on people who own pit bulls. Because they would no longer be considered under the “one bite” rule, an owner would be liable in any case if their dog attacks someone, even if this is the first time that the dog has shown aggression. The new court of appeals ruling now singles out pit bulls and Ms. Kirby believes it is unfair to single out one specific breed.

The other issue is that landlords would also be liable on a first bite if a dog attacked someone while on their property. This will undoubtedly make it more difficult for owners of pit bulls to find housing, because landlords will have the right to refuse them based on the dog that they own and the inherent legal issues that could accompany it. That risk on the part of the owner could have an impact on the number of people who choose to adopt pit bulls, meaning that they will continue to be bred in poor conditions.

Colleen Kirby is a Maryland criminal lawyer and owner of pit bulls. She is outspoken about her support and love for the animals. Please contact us for more information about pit bull legislation and how you can get involved.

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