Md. gov. pressured on pit bull ruling

May 8, 2012 at 5:10 PM
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BALTIMORE, May 8 (UPI) -- Animal rights activists are pressuring Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley to promptly introduce legislation which would deem pit bulls safe, officials say.

The legislation would override a Maryland Court of Appeals decision which deemed the dog breed dangerous. Maryland Votes for Animals and other groups have urged residents to call O'Malley's office to ask him to introduce the legislation during the special General Assembly session to be held Monday.

The Baltimore Sun reported O'Malley has responded saying the special session is to be budget-focused, meaning he does not intend to introduce the legislation. House Speaker Michael Busch has echoed the sentiment.

"We're only doing budget," said Alexandra Hughes, Busch's spokeswoman.

Carolyn Kilborn, chair and founder of Maryland Votes for Animals, says her group has received a tremendous response to the idea of the legislation.

"We feel this is terribly important," she said. "It should be dealt with in the special session."

Kilborn's group joins other animal rights groups in opposition to last month's Court of Appeals ruling which no longer requires a victim of a pit bull attack to demonstrate the dog's owner was aware it had a history of violent behavior; a victim now only needs to show the owner or landlord was aware the dog was part pit bull.

The ruling was in response to a 2007 attack in which 10-year-old Dominic Solesky was mauled by a pit bull.

Animal rights groups say the ruling unfairly targets pit bull owners, and insist new legislation must focus on the dog's behavior rather than breed. They also say it will discourage people from adopting pit bulls or renting apartments to pit bull owners.

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