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Losing My Best Friends: The Best of Intentions, But Worst of Outcomes

My own personal story of how I was directly and negatively affected by the unprecedented Solesky v Tracey ruling, and subsequent listing of Pit Bulls as a dangerous breed.

   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 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 is 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.

-Jon Mazzetta

 Solesky v Tracey Joint Legislative Task Force
Senators:

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

Delegates:

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, thomas.v.mike.miller@senate.state.md.us

Speaker of the House Michael Busch, michael.busch@house.state.md.us

Governor O’Malley,  http://www.governor.maryland.gov/mail/

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Amanda Fitzgerald June 20, 2012 at 08:07 PM
It amazing me that the people who are yelling about "these evil pitt bulls" dont seem to care about anybody else that gets attacked by another breed of dog or when another breed of dog bites. If people really wanted to work on preventing dog bites wouldn't it make sense to focus on the two biggest reason that ALL dogs bite? 90% of ALL dog bites are due to have unaltered pets and tethered pets. Wouldn't focusing on those two factors make sense instead of demonizing and entire breed of dog based on hysteria and biased media reporting?
Tara June 20, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Wow...I'm an educator and hold a Masters Degree from Johns Hopkins University. I am also the VERY proud owner of a "pit bull" , foster them, and volunteer for a "pit bull" rescue. Can't say that I've ever been categorized as a " wanna be gangster" nor are most " pit bull" owners that I know. I can only hope that one day people will stop mistaking media for truth and turn to the actual facts, like the ones provided by Jon and others here. Many people that believe the propaganda brought on by the media have never even come in contact with a "pit bull". Be a leader, not a follower- meet one and see for yourself...at least give yourself the respect to formulate your own unbiased opinion. I would gladly welcome you to meet my family dog, and I know many other "pit bull" owners would as well. Jon, thank you for writing this and we will all keep fighting for you and others like you. Ignore ignorance, life is too short to put too much energy into those that are so narrow minded.
Kdawg June 20, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Good show Tara. Pit bull owners I know: My sister - Phd. lives in Parkville My best friend - works for the government - grade 13 Another friend - Yoga instructor None of these ladies are wanna be gangstas. These pit bulls are my dog's best friends. They tower over him but they know his limits. I trust them and their owners to the end. Good people raise good dogs. Bad people raise bad dogs.
Stephanie - fostering a pitt type June 21, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Geez Brad - in less than 2 mins i pulled Wikipedia and on 4/20/2012 a person was killed in the home by a labrador - you cant spell and apparently you cant read either. April 20 Labradorx Aiden McGrew Killed by family's dog. and ..... September 4 Labrador Brayden McCollen Killed by family dog should I go on? Any more cr*p you care to spout?
Amanda Fitzgerald June 21, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Here is some perspective for you In 2007, twenty-five (25) Maryland children died as a result of maltreatment (abuse/neglect).In the single year of 2007, more than twice as many Maryland children died from maltreatment than the total of all children killed by dogs in Maryland over the past 47 years.Fact is, people in Maryland routinely accept far greater risks from ATVs, bicycles and swimming pools than any that are associated with companion animals.
Jon Mazzetta June 21, 2012 at 01:36 AM
There are only a couple of credited sources that cover dog bite fatalities in the US.The National Canine Research Council will usually take a full year of follow up to complete their report. The NCRC is preparing numbers for 2011, and expects their report to be out the first week of 2013. Here is their preliminary report for 2011 http://nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/uploaded_files/tinymce/NCRC%20Preliminary%20Report%202011.pdf The CRC's report for 2010 is available here. http://nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/uploaded_files/tinymce/2010%20DBRF%20Report_Final.pdf
Jon Mazzetta June 21, 2012 at 01:53 AM
I would like you to note that in the 33 cases of Dog related fatalities the study shows 21 dogs to be of unknown origin or indeterminable. 2 verified Pit Bulls 3 verified Rottweilers 2 verified German Shepards 1 verified Husky 1 verified American Bulldog 1 verified Wolf Mix 1 verified Boxer The study also makes note that several of the cases were reported to be "pit bulls" by the media, but there was no evidence to support those claims, and photos of the dogs were found to be an unknown mixed breed as well. Most of the unknowns were also strays, feral or junkyard pack dogs that were never located after the incidents. So if you'd like to claim that all of the unknown breeds were "pit bulls" help yourself. But under review by scientific, medical, and veterinary professionals that would be a very incorrect statement.
Brook Hubbard June 21, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Please provide a source for those statistics? I have found the statistic noting there were 31 fatal dog attacks, but nowhere can I find the data that states the breeds involved. Would you mind telling me where you found a report from a verifiable source stating that 22 attacks were by American Pit Bull Terriers or mixes involving that breed?
Jon Mazzetta June 21, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Brad if you wish for us to provide citations for any statistical data I ask that you provide the same. Do you have access to a scientific study to support the claim that "31 U.S. fatal dog attacks occurred in 2011 and out of that 31 attacks, 22 involved pitbulls." Also am I to understand that you are affiliated with dogsbite.org in some way? "we keep great records when it comes to dog bite fatalities." Every single one of your arguments have been a verbatim repeat of their position and I'm curious as to your insistence of citing them..
Brook Hubbard June 21, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Per the 2011 preliminary report by the National Canine Research Council (NCRC): "The news media regularly describe dogs as members of specific breeds. Yet, NCRC’s investigations over the years show that a majority of the breed descriptors assigned by the news media cannot be documented or otherwise considered reasonable (through pedigree, DNA or otherwise). For example, NCRC investigations of the dog bite-related fatalities in 2010 showed that in only eleven of the cases could the breed descriptors assigned to the dogs be documented, or otherwise considered reasonable. Eight different kinds of dogs were identified in those eleven incidents. The breed composition of all the other dogs was indeterminate, whatever the news media reported about them. In fact, in three cases in 2010, news stories identified dogs and attributed breeds to those dogs that detectives later determined were NOT the dogs involved in the incident. The dog(s) responsible were never identified or captured. News outlets, having moved on to other, pressing issues, never corrected this." In summary, data revealing fatalities caused by each breed is incomplete, inaccurate, and/or unreliable. Any data purporting to show breed-by-breed comparison is likely false.
Jon Mazzetta June 21, 2012 at 01:58 AM
On a side note, I would ask that all participants be polite and professional in your responses. I will not tolerate any personal attacks or foul language in this discussion. You will be removed and blocked. Keep it classy, we're all adults here..
Jon Mazzetta June 21, 2012 at 02:17 AM
Furthermore I would like to note that my involvement in this entire discussion is due to the fact that both of my dogs "look like" pit bull mixes, and due to their appearance, under the Solesky v Tracey ruling, fall into the nondescript category of "pit bull mixes." Intern are a liability at this point, because the court failed to define what a pit bull actually is, and what would be a determining factor in what a mixed breed pit bull was either. Therefore every dog that is of unknown origin could be labeled a "pit bull" and fall under this ruling. This is not good science, and has proven to be a terrible legislative effort by the judiciary system of Maryland.
Janet Miller June 21, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Please post your source for your incorrect statistics, Brad! It's obvious you have no reliable source, otherwise you would be posting it!
Janet Miller June 21, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Ay, ay, Tara! I too am the proud owner of TWO wonderful pit bulls (one who looks like Petey from the Lil Rascals, remember that show?). I have a degree from U of Md with a triple major in Computer Science, Applied Mathematics, and Economics and currently work as a Sr Software Engineer. Noone has ever called me a "gangsta" either. And everyone loves my dogs.
Janet Miller June 21, 2012 at 03:08 AM
The truth is, you probably can't find the exact answer to that question anywhere. But please keep looking, Brad.
Janet Miller June 21, 2012 at 03:09 AM
What, no source again? Did you get those numbers from dogsbite.org again?
Janet Miller June 21, 2012 at 03:14 AM
Great job in presenting the FACTS, Jon!
Felice June 21, 2012 at 11:32 AM
I agree Jon. Horrible ruling. I searched the internet for "statistics" last nite and found a few similar to what "Brad" was quoting BUT at the bottom of the page it said something like "after later review it's been found that these statics are not accurate". These stats were NOT from reputable sources and I didn't even bother to look on "Dogsbite". BTW I have a wonderful Pit Bull and guess what, I'm NOT a gansta!
Felice June 21, 2012 at 11:33 AM
*statistics....
J. Conn June 21, 2012 at 11:36 PM
What I find beyond sad is the individuals that continue to state "fiction" when there has been excellent, reputable sites mentioned by Melanie Snyder and Jon Mazzetta where you can get lots & lots of "facts". Some of the comments are so outrageously crazy I can not nor will I waste my time commenting. I am almost embarrassed for you & your ignorance... If you want to "debate" you first need the facts... This is how this horrible nightmare started for the Responsible Owners and their beloved pets... Individuals going off of hear-say... media driven news and FICTION. The facts are there you just have to WANT to know the truth...
James Moylan June 22, 2012 at 02:54 AM
First of all you are clueless. Second of all you should not be allowed to speak in public. Third of all nothing you stated above is true. You are obviously a simpleton who is easily influenced by the media and cannot think for himself. You should be outlawed so that you cannot breed and contribute to the downfall of the human race.
jenine June 22, 2012 at 04:04 PM
I haven't read all of the comments but all i know is that its all about training any dog breed any size dog.. if u beat them they will bite.. if you tease them they will bite.. if someone kept poking me i would snap on you! I work at a vet hospital and i have never in the 2 and half yrs been biten by a pit bull, its more the little ones and the ones ppl think that are sweet like labs and boxers. I have three pit bull mixes and they are just like children and sweet as pie. They love everyone and everything. Two of my pitts have even donated blood to number of animals and saved there life. Did those animals turn on people or their owner no their alive healthy and happy to this day thanks to my two beautiful wonderful happy girls!!
Keri Ainsworth June 22, 2012 at 04:34 PM
I have been bit in the face in 2000 by a beagle and it broke my nose and the deepest cut was a half inch away from my eye. So I agree that some breeds can be very vicious and brutal so its unspeakable and appalling what they are doing towards Pit Bulls and only Pit Bulls.
Jen Allen June 22, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Jon, thank you for not taking this lying down. I do not own a dog but have lived with them before. It is all about training. I've been attacked more by cats (3) than by dogs (0). This is just a shift in blame from the human to the dog. I hope this ruling is reversed.
Phil Dirt June 26, 2012 at 06:37 PM
There are many references in the comments to other postings that are no longer shown, and it appears that all of the deleted comments disagreed with your stated opinion. It does not help your cause to remove all comments that oppose your viewpoint and present this simply as a "we all agree, so we must be right" statement.
Jon Mazzetta June 26, 2012 at 07:08 PM
@ Phil Dirt I can assure you that no one has been filtering any of the comments here. Even as author I do not have the ability to remove comments and can only flag them as inappropriate. Which I luckily havnt had to do yet. The comments posted Mr Brad Mulcahy have disappeared along with his profile, and unfortunately it is a very common internet troll tactic to do so. From what I saw he was flagged and even blocked from other postings and was possibly removed from patch all together for doing so. Another drawback is that due to the anonymous nature of patch postings, you could very well be Brad Mulcahy under the alias of Phil Dirt, and are simply continuing to troll by pointing out the above question. So let me make it clear that neither myself, as the author, or those who comment have the ability to remove comments on the fly. We can only flag comments and then the comments would still be listed in this conversation as "flagged." Only when you remove your profile or own comments from patch.com will your comments be purged, "flagged" or not. I created this blog to start a public discussion, not to steer it, and I would certainly be glad for you to participate and express any opinion you may have, regardless of which side of the topic you are on.
Jon Mazzetta June 26, 2012 at 07:13 PM
I have screen shots of all of his postings and would be glad to repost them if you would like also. A benefit of the email notifications from patch.com is that they contain the body of the comments posted.
Mona Erdrich June 26, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Jon, I'm so sorry that you and your girls are having to go through this. Thanks for speaking up about how BSL damages families.
Dan Pinder June 27, 2012 at 05:52 AM
So sad, I can not even imagine. I would almost certainly move. Shared this on Lucy's World on Facebook. Hope many people will show up, speak up!
Tammy June 27, 2012 at 11:24 AM
And it was the common "black dog" that was known for being shown as vicious in movies, and a gangster dog. Are we soon going to ban all black dogs over 50 pounds in this country also. Ridiculous!!

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