A couple weeks ago, we posted about how the Maryland legislature, unable to come up with a compromise bill that would please both houses, failed to act on anti-breed-specific legislation that both sides actually agreed on in principle. Now, the Maryland Court of Appeals has muddied the waters further by partially reversing a ruling it made declaring pit bulls “inherently dangerous.” In the original ruling the Court had applied the “inherently dangerous” tag to pit bulls and pit bull mixes. It has now removed “pit bull mixes” from the new rule. So only purebred pit bulls fall into this category.
There’s just one problem: What’s a “pure bred pit bull”?
The decision to remove mixed breeds was made because judges lacked evidence to hold them to the same standards as purebreds, leaving the new ruling to apply to dogs referred to as “pit bulls” or “pit bull terriers.” Now, animal advocates are raising concerns about the potential for even more problems and confusion since there’s no such thing as a purebred pit bull. The term ‘pit bull’ can be applied to to a number of breeds, including the American Pit Bull Terrier, (APBT), American Staffordshire Terrier (AMSTAFF) and Staffordshire Bull Terrier (STAFFY), and they’re easily misidentified (try it).
“There is no way to visually identify a dog as a pit bull and there’s no way to even prove it using DNA,” said Cory Smith, a senior director with the Humane Society of the United States. “Even veterinarians … have a hard time identifying a dog as a pit bull.”
So this has really done nothing to ease the burden on dog owners and landlords created by the initial ruling. The best hope for ending this confusion is that the legislature will pick this issue up in January and finally resolve all the confusion and contradictions.