Losing My Best Friends: The Best of Intentions, but Worst of Outcomes
In an effort to shed some light on the negative impact of the Pit Bull breed specific ruling of the Solesky v. Tracey ruling on April 26, 2012, I would like to share my story with everyone and offer some insight as to how the many thousands of dog owners, advocates, tenants, property owners, and landlords in the Maryland area that have been directly and negatively affected by this unprecedented ruling.
I have lived in Maryland my entire life and in the Parkville/Carney area for over ten years, four of those years in my current single family home. I own and run a small business from home, I am friendly with my neighbors, have a good relationship with my landlord, and have never had any issues until now. While familiar with the implications, and actively against many aspects of the Solesky v Tracey ruling, I had never expected to get the call from my landlord to ask me to remove my two pit mix girls. Both are well behaved, friendly rescues that had never shown any aggression toward anyone except the occasional squirrel. Many of my friends and neighbors have met, and played with my girls and know very well that they could never be a threat to anyone. Many also not even aware that they were even pit breed mixes. I myself have had many experiences with bully breeds, as well as pit bulls, and prefer them over many other dogs for their energy, intelligence, loyalty, and dedication. They are very energetic and have a very loving temperament. Since I was looking for a running/trail hiking buddy, and companions for the many lonely days I work from home, both my dogs were the perfect fit for me.
After about a week of research, countless nights without sleep, phone calls, lawyers, insurance agents, policy adjustments, and flat out desperation. I unfortunately had nothing I could do to convince my landlord to allow me to keep my dogs. I have spoke with many lawyers and insurance agents, raised my renters insurance, suggested adding several stipulations to my lease, and even suggested to put a lien on my business. Yet even then, there was no way I was able to legally shield or insulate my landlord from being pursued if the worst should happen. No questions asked no ability to prove they are not aggressive, and ultimately the decision residing on my landlord accepting the risk, which he could not take. The neglectful decision handed down in April, by the appellate court, has led to yet another responsible dog owner losing their beloved pets. Based on unfounded hype, myth, and rumors, as well as poorly researched, outdated data concerning the pit bull breed (which was denied review by the court) The court, while citing this data, declared that the entirety of the pit bull breed, and subsequent mixes were "inherently dangerous." Intern leaving immediate liability on owners of a very broad and varying group of dogs, with no specifics concerning lineage or limitation of mix offered. Genetic testing of this breed’s lineage is extremely difficult, since they are a mixed breed to begin with, and not an actual pedigree. Therefore any owners of dogs that mildly resemble a pit bull or pit bull mix will have an extremely difficult time finding and keeping their homes, due to the immediate inclusion of liability set on property owners and landlords. While requiring me to surrender my dogs is a quick fix for a landlord in this situation, my girls are obviously very important, and it could never be a quick fix for me.
Sunny and Samantha have been amazing companions to me. Loving and playful, they really help to take the stress out of everyday life and are an incredible joy to myself and two other roommates. We have a large fenced in back yard, and while they’re never outdoors unattended, both girls have plenty of area to enjoy and thrive. Sunny has been with me for almost a year and a half and Samantha has been with me for about six months, both of which came from abusive or neglectful beginnings, and had found a happy home with us, surrounded by loving and caring people, with the patience to nurture, train, and enrich their lives in order for them thrive. Now they have been uprooted and placed in temporary homes until the state legislative body can convene to discuss the appellate ruling in July. Whether or not the ruling will be upheld will ultimately decide whether I will have to find a new home; that is pit bull friendly; or move out of state, due to the scarcity of now being able to find a pit bull friendly home. This adding further hardship to the entire situation for myself, my dogs, as well as my business based here in Baltimore.
While Im sure the court had the best of intentions in trying to help end the pandemic of irresponsible, abusive, and neglectful dog owners that have lead to aggressive behavior and attacks. The court failed to recognize that any abused or mistreated animal can be vicious regardless of breed, and only by pursuing the criminals that are raising these dogs to be violent and aggressive will the cycle of violence end. Only responsible, thorough discussion and careful legislation will protect animals; of all breeds; as well as the people that may interact with them. Hysteria driven, emotional decisions will only lead to more negative outcomes for everyone involved as well as further proliferate rumors and flat out disinformation concerning these dogs.
The singling out of pit bulls and mixed breed pit bulls, has led to the worst outcome for many, responsible, loving families with good dogs being left with no option but to give up their pets, or lose their homes. The "inherently dangerous" clause will lead to hundreds of lawsuits with no statute of limitations on liability or burden of proof. Making it impossible to own or lease to owners of these dogs. Many responsible pet owners will have to surrender their dogs to already overcrowded shelters here in Maryland. Most of which are already overcrowded due to the rise in abandoned or relinquished dogs as a further consequence of this ruling. While hopefully this outcome was unintended, these are good dogs that had loving homes, that will now have to spend the remainder of their lives in a 3x3 cage, until they are either adopted or most likely destroyed.
This ruling has thus created an effective pit bull ban in the state of Maryland, without legislative review, congressional oversight, or public referendum whatsoever. The Solesky v. Tracey ruling on April 26th, not only passed judgment on that case, but also effectively handed down judgment on every dog owner in the state of Maryland. Not just pit bull owners, all dog owners, and legislative involvement and oversight in the matter, including fair educated public debate, could yield far more successful and positive results and protections for all sides.
I implore everyone to educate themselves, and carefully read between the lines regarding the facts in this case and the many negative consequences it has created for all animal lovers and advocates. After weeks of public outcry, and the intervention of many advocacy groups such as the Humane Society, and the ASPCA, a joint legislative task force will be convening in Annapolis, Tuesday June the 18th, to discuss the many consequences left in the wake of this ruling. If you wish to show support against this ruling, the Tracey v. Solesky Task Force Hearing will be held at the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Hearing Room
Miller Senate Office Building, Suite 2E 11 Bladen Street Annapolis, MD 21401, but if you cant attend I recommend writing the council members as well as the governor as well. Ive included the contact information for them, and I appreciate everyone taking the time to hear my story.
Solesky v Tracey Joint Legislative Task Force
Brian Frosh, D-Montgomery, Brian.Frosh@senate.state.md.us
Lisa Gladden, D-Baltimore, Lisa.Gladden@senate.state.md.us
Joseph Getty, R-Carroll, Joseph.Getty@senate.state.md.us
Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery, Jamie.Raskin@senate.state.md.us
Norman Stone, D-Baltimore County, Norman.Stone@senate.state.md.us
Curt Anderson, D-Baltimore, Curt.Anderson@house.state.md.us
Eric Bromwell, D-Baltimore County, Eric.Bromwell@house.state.md.us
Benjamin Kramer, D-Montgomery, Benjamin.Kramer@house.state.md.us
Heather Mizeur, D-Montgomery, Heather.Mizeur@house.state.md.us
Michael Smigiel, R-Cecil., Michael.Smigiel@house.state.md.us
President of the Senate Mike Miller, firstname.lastname@example.org
Speaker of the House Michael Busch, email@example.com
Governor O’Malley, http://www.governor.maryland.gov/mail/