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Maryland Court Ruling: All Pit Bulls Are “Inherently Vicious”

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A Maryland Court of Appeals decision regarding pit bulls has many dog owners and rescue groups outraged.

The ruling states that pit bulls, and pit bull mixes, are “inherently vicious” dogs and increases liability for pit bull owners and landlords that permit pit bulls to reside on their property.

Prior to the ruling, if a dog was involved in an attack, negligence on the part of the owner or landlord needed to be proven in order to assign liability For example, if the owner wasn’t using a leash, or the fence wasn’t adequate to contain the dog. Now, anyone in Maryland that owns a pit or rents property to a pit owner can be held responsible in the event of an attack, regardless of negligence.

In other words, if you live in Maryland and own a pit bull, or even a pit bull mix, you’re responsible for any injuries your dog causes whether you were negligent or not.

So what does this mean for Maryland dog owners?

It means that responsible pit bull owners will have more trouble finding a place to live. It means that the thousands of pits and pit mixes sitting in shelters across the state are less likely to be adopted and will instead be euthanized. It probably means a state-wide pit bull ban is likely for Maryland.

Cheryl Bernard Smith of the Maryland SPCA expressed her concerns with the new ruling, telling CBS News, “Every animal is an individual, so to say that all pit bulls are inherently dangerous is absolutely untrue.” The Maryland SPCA currently has several adoptable pit bulls waiting for their forever homes that may now be out of luck.

How do you feel about Maryland’s ruling on pit bulls? Do you agree or disagree with the decision? Please, share your thoughts in a comment below.

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  1. Avatar Of Elie Nelson

    elie nelson


    I have read all those comments, and I have one question , have any one of you every had your children attack by a pitbull dog, I pray that do not happen , I feel that type of dogs should ban in all area , you may not like it but that is on you.

  2. Avatar Of Kevin Ellenbrand

    Kevin Ellenbrand


    The question in my mind is What kind of dope is this judge smoking? under the logic, it also holds true that all police dogs are inherently vicious, because they’ve actually been trained to be that way. So therefore, under the logic, lets ban the police from using K9s. Whats more, is that most of the people that get bit tend to get bit out of consequences of their own actions in mis-approaching or mishandling the animal in some way, NOT because the animal is “inherently vicious”.

    This is yet another example of the courts allowing personal bias to creep into determination of the law, which is reprehensible. As for the scenario of cops getting bit while serving a warrant- my position would be that this is what comes with the turf when you step onto someone’s property uninvited. you would think after being bitten by a few dogs, they would use the common sense of following the knock and announce rule as the law requires to begin with.

  3. Avatar Of Tony Lilich Tony Lilich says:

    Every Pit I have ever been around.Are nothing but big babies.They are no different, from any other dog.ONLY THE OWNER AND CITY OFFICIALS ARE SAME.Not good for the dog.STUPID and UNEDUCATED BOTH ARE SCARY.THINK ABOUT IT MARYLAND.

  4. Avatar Of Plan Q Aisne plan q aisne says:

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  5. Avatar Of Mike



    I’m all for allowing thugs, stupid people and breed fanciers to own pit/pit mixes anda handful ofother breeds. All for it, PROVIDED, there is legislation which would allow the state to take the houses and imprison for 10 years the owners whose dog maim or kill anyone! All for it.

  6. Avatar Of Barbara



    All dogs are “inherently vicious”. All cats are “inherently vicious”. People are “inherently vicious”. I call for a state ban on all dogs, cats, and people!!

  7. Avatar Of Rita Chesterton

    Rita Chesterton


    Each dog, not matter the breed, should be judged only on its on personality and tendencies…. and that judgment should only occur in a non-stressed environment, not in a noisy scary shelter setting. Pit Bull Terriers are as lovable as any other breed. Here is a site to prove it. “Chance” was on the Urgent list at ACAC of NYC when he was saved at the last minute. Why would anyone randomly decide that “Chance” and his other housemate Pit Bull should be torn from this family IF they lived in Maryland? facebook.com/pages/Our-Loving-Pack/492794767426640?fref=ts

  8. Avatar Of Cheryl



    Quit with the statistics, Crystal. How would you like to be considered just a statistic? We have the most loving American Bull Dog, who’s never shown any signs of viciousness. We love her to death, and everyone who interacts with her loves her (vets, groomers, boarders, etc.). We used to take her to a dog park, where she wants to do nothing but play; she loves to play with puppies best! One time, a male German Shephard was acting all alpha, challenging a number of dogs; when he started focusing on our Am. Bull Dog, she just stood her ground while the Shephard barked at her and bounced around on his front paws. My dog did growl a couple of times, but that was it. Suddenly, the owner of the Shephard runs over and yells “If your dog bites mine I’ll sue you!” I couldn’t believe he said that… HIS dog was the agressor! Ignorant people (owners and commentators) are the primary problem.

  9. Avatar Of Crystle Crystle says:

    These statistics should scare everyone even those that love this breed!
    In the 8-year period from 2005 to 2012, pit bulls killed 151 Americans and accounted for 60% of the total recorded deaths (251). Combined, pit bulls and rottweilers accounted for 73% of these deaths.
    SO, tell me again how sweet and loving these animals are??? I applaud the judge for the ruling!

    • Avatar Of Honey



      Crystle – you seem to have the same mentality as a number of people I have met in the law enforcement community that use statistics to label all minorities as ‘low life criminals’. The only animal that is inherently malicious is the homosapien. Each dog is an individual, but more often it is the poor human handler that is responsible for these attacks. People buy (adopt) a dog without researching the needs of the breed – bully breeds are active dogs – they require training, socialization, attention, and exercise (meaning an actual heart-pounding run for at least 45 min twice daily)…if you keep them (and most dogs) locked up, even in a yard without stimulation – the pent-up energy can become aggressive. However, your love of statistics doesn’t accurately report the total picture…more deaths will be attributed to large breed dogs, they cause more damage and are stronger – Rotties and Pits are often the case because of the issues of the owner I stated (this is not an opinion – check with any animal/dog behavior specialist). In my years working w a number of board certified veterinary specialists (surgical, internal med, oncology, dermatology, emergency) – my biggest issue has been little dogs. People think it’s so damn cute that their little fluffy wants to ‘take on’ the big dogs, but when the big dog barks back/protects itself, they cry ‘FOUL’. If you don’t like these types of dogs…don’t get one…but you would be better served by educating yourself on how to help people become responisble owners that will then reduce issues in the future, than spewing ignorant hate messages that will cause more people to not seek the training and socialization for their pets…causing the circle to continue.

    • Avatar Of Chasen



      There you go again with your statistics! Where do you get these? the newspaper? The Tv? The Internet? Because if its on the internet it must be true right? Just another american that is just content on the media telling you how you should be, how to live your life, what you should be scared of! I feel sorry for individuals such as your self ma’am. Why dont you go research pitbulls more, and learn how their breed really is away from stupied people who abuse them.

  10. Avatar Of Crystle Crystle says:

    Apparently many of these people that swear by the pitbulls have not read about the pitbulls that have continually killed small children. NOT ONCE do you read of any other breed but pitbulls who kill small kids. The last one I read was of a broken hearted father who just lost his 9 month old son to his pitbull who is supposed to be so loving. He even claimed that they both slept together. BUT when the baby got old enough to pull himself up, he happened to pull himself up on the side of the pitbull. The dog grabbed the babies head and mangled him back and forth till he was dead. The father killed the dog but lost his 9 month old son. Why don’t you ask this young father how he feels about pittbulls!!

    • Avatar Of Chasen



      Iv read thru these comments and you seem to be the only one that hates pitbulls that much, because its all you talk about. Im a Us Veteran, Iv seen your so called good german sheps attack his handler,after they were attacked by the enemy because it was scared. Did we condem that dog? Did we kill it? no, Hes now in a loving home thanks to the great programs the military puts on for military working dogs. Dogs are what we humans make them. If you beat a dog all the time, mistreat it, or abuse it, of course its going to be aggressive, as you would if you were abused, or beaten. I love my pitbull, shes the sweetest thing in the world, why?? Its a mystery! No not really, its because me and my wife love on her, and teach her whats good. Pitbulls were the first nanny dogs ever used. Incase you dont “Know it all” Nanny dogs took care of children because mom and dad had to work. A Pitbull also holds the highest military honors for any working dog in the US armys History! So before you start to say iv read this, or iv read that. or someone told me this, maybe you should be a little more open hearted to pitbulls and all animals that are abused or other wise condemed!

  11. Avatar Of Sharon



    Hooray for Maryland! I don’t understand why pit bull owners are upset. If your pit bull is so sweet and wonderful, then you have nothing to worry about. It doesn’t apply to you.

  12. Avatar Of Jason Wickerd

    Jason Wickerd


    It makes me sad to see the current state of the United States Of America that everything is politicly correct and if you have anything to say that you will be scrutinized on your view even if it is relevant. Pitbulls or any dogs can be vicious if either trained that way. I bet some twisted “A hole” could abuse even a poodle and teach it to attack someone but you would rarely hear about that if it did happen. Why I ask? If a poodle is fluffy like a sheep it can’t be mean right? Wrong! Pitbulls get a bad rep because of the urban areas and dog fighting and mostly because of the ignorance of human beings not being responsible. I grew up with pitbulls and other dogs as well that were really sweet and caring personality. Because of irresponsible owners the dogs take the fall. Dogs can sometimes snap naturally as well but you have to examine the situation carefully.
    The way things are going we all might as well just sit in a little rubber room with a camera to watch our every move because of what we say, do and will be taken away because of someones ignorant actions with abuse they can do with animals, guns, or other human beings. Use F’n common sense people but thats probably too much to ask isn’t it.

  13. Avatar Of Geoff West

    Geoff West


    I have been around dogs my entire life and even worked for a Veterinarian throughout high school, giving me the opportunity to interact with hundreds, if not thousands, of dogs.
    For the last five years, we have enjoyed the company of a Pit mix we took in off the street. She definitely has some strong reactions to certain triggers that indicate significant mal-treatment in her first 6-9 months before we took her in, but they are limited to nervous barking.
    Beyond that, she is unquestionably the most pathetically needy dog I’ve ever encountered, always eager to cuddle, lick, and to be reassured that she’s needed and loved. She gets along wonderfully with our other dogs, those that visit, and her maternal affection towards the older of our two cats is just weird.
    Anyone who makes a blanket statement about the inherent viciousness of Pits (or any other breed) is merely displaying their ignorant prejudice. These judges clearly need education about and more real exposure to the breed, because their ruling clearly shows they’re too insulated to be making this call.

  14. Avatar Of Pit Mom

    Pit Mom


    I have 2 pit bulls, a lab mix and and a chihuahua, I have yet to see one of my pit bulls show agression towards my other dogs or my kids! I work as a technician at a veterinarian hospital and see so many pit bulls come through those doors. My 7 years working for a vet, I have not met a pit bull that wanted to take a bite out of me, but only meet those that love to be scratched, rubbed and kissed on the head, and that tail is wagging all excited, hitting the exam room walls making that banging noise.Its funny how pit bulls are labeled as aggressive dogs, but when a pit bulls walks through those doors at my work, its the other breed of dogs that start yapping and want to run towards the pit bull. Yet its funny how owners of those yapping annoying dogs show NO control in SHUTTING there dog up, but if the pit bull gives a growl, they are right away the meanest breed alive. Unless you own a pit bull, or are a responsible owner, go sit in a corner with your annoying yapping dog and be quiet!! Leave the pit bulls alone!!

  15. Avatar Of Tracy



    I once was swore I would never own a pit bull! I still don’! I have a 5 yr.old beagle who is just the sweetest and loveable dog ever. I also have a 11 yr.old german shepard/golden lab mix. My shapard/lab mix is very protective of her family. Listens only to us, yet wants any newcomer to pet and rub her tummy. Only a few people to come in our home have ever had her growl at them.
    I being the responsible adult owner of said dog, put her out back or in a bedroom. My daughter adopted a pit mix and brought it to our home to visit. My shepard/lab mix was way more aggressive then her pit mix. Needless to say after trying to get them to get along, they just were not. One day they got into a fight over a dead squirel. My 21 yr. old daughter jumped on the shepard/lab and her pit stopped an went to corner of yard. I went to the pit to calm her and get her out of back yard. I would never ,ever would have gone near that dog if I didn’t trust her not to bite me. While my daughter held down our shepard/lab ,I got her dog , petted her, talked calmly to her and she followed me out of yard ,thru gate and to our front porch. Our Shepard/lab
    mix took quite awhile to calm down and luckily only one tear in her ear that we patched up. To this day , when my daughter comes to visit, if she has her dog with her ,we have to separate those two dogs. One in the house ,one outside. My beagle gets along with her pit , they play and run all over our back yard together. Her pit has traveled with her on car trips, camping and visiting friends and family. There have been times when she has stopped for gas and been bothered by humans begging for money or food. All she has to do if these so called humane humans won’t leave her alone , is yes, call her dog by name. Her dog will jump out car window , stand in front of her , show her lovely smile and never leave her side. Her pit /mix has never bitten anyone. She acts like a baby and loves on everyone. She is the protecter of my daughter! I never have to worry about my daughter when she has her protecter with her. They run, walk , swim,play catch ,
    eat and sleep together. My daughter studies for college and her dog is beside her on floor sleeping. I am still not a big pitbull, rotweiler,doberman , greatdame,chihuhala,poodle or dashund (I was bit by one, after owner said she was harmless) lover. But a dog that is trained, loved and taken care of responsibly is just one of the family. Its the owner , not the breed.

    • Avatar Of Crystle Crystle says:

      Pitbulls OR Rottweilers are not breeds for toddlers or babies. Every small child that has been killed by a dog has been either a pittbull or rottweiler. I read about the 2 year old who happened to be strolling into his nieghbors back yard were his pittbull was and the pittbull killed the toddler immediately with no warning. Same with the Rottweiler. These are NOT dogs to have around small children I don’t care what you say!! My sisters Chow saved her son from a pittbull stray. He walked out of his house and was immediately confronted by a pitbull growling at him, he screamed for his chow and the chow stood in between her son and the pittbull. The pittbull backed off from the chow but it could have been bad for her son! These are NOT gentle sweet dogs they are killers and are trained to be killers! They have that instinct in them!! Those that have had runins with pittbulls will not believe you when you try to make them out to be sweet dogs. Rottweilers are even worse but to me just as bad!!

      • Avatar Of Diva'S Mom

        Diva's Mom


        Dear Crystle, “every” small child that has been killed by a dog has been by either a Rottie or a Pit? You should do a little more homework before making such an erroneous statement. A simple Google search will prove to you that many different breeds and mixes of dogs have attacked small children. Almost always, these children were alone with the dogs. I personally know over a hundred families across this country with loving Pits and Pit mixes that live with and love them, including their children. Just like mentally unbalanced parents senselessly abuse and murder their children each day in this world, unbalanced dogs will attack humans. Pit bull terriers have a long history of love and companionship with humans. Years ago, it was the Bloodhound that was considered the menace to humans. Then it became German Shephards, Dobermans, Rottweilers, and now Pit Bulls. It is not, and never has been, the breed of the dog that creates the propensity for aggression. It’s their training (or lack thereof), their treatment (or abuse), their socialization (or, again, lack thereof), and their health. A healthy, well-fed, properly socialized, and well cared-for dog (not chained or tethered outside), raised with love and respect as a part of a loving family, will not be a threat to any human unless given a reason.

    • Avatar Of Crystle Crystle says:

      Most likely the german shepherd mix could sense the killer instinct in the pittbull and was just protecting his family. German Sheperds are very smart dogs and are used by police and the military. I can see why they would not like a pittbull. Nothing wrong with the german shepherd mix but I would be very carefull around that pittbull cause the german shepherd is trying to tell you something!!

  16. Avatar Of John



    This just proves that Maryland judges are “Inherently Stupid.”

  17. Avatar Of Graeme



    I guess all African Americans are low-life, inner city gangsters as well. Yay for mass discrimination in the 21st century! I can’t believe how ignorant our so-called authorities are. How can a highly educated member of our legal structure actually sign off on such an asinine conclusion. The last I checked common fallacies are taught in the very first year of college. But I guess the ruling was made the way it was because the Judge, and everyone involved, doesn’t own a pit bull. Amazing how that works.

    I own a pit mix, and I’ll admit that she is aggressive with all other dogs except my other dog, which is a Husky. She was a rescue from a group of five other pit puppies that were witnessed to have been thrown out of a truck window inside of a trash bag, while it was driving away. Who knows what other cruelty she suffered.

    Recently we discovered that whenever we drop her off at the vet for the day, she has absolutely no problems with any people or dogs. The vet even said that she took her out for a walk (inside of Petsmart) and she playfully sniffed and was interested in other people’s dogs. This made us realize that she is not aggressive, she is protective.. of my wife and I. Albeit still dangerous, but not the “vicious bloodthirsty killer” that the moronic sheep in society want to believe.

    I also used to be a postman, and the only dog that ever actually bit me was a Chihuahua, and they are widely known to be extremely aggressive.. but why then does the media potray them as lovable and cuddly? Because they can’t do as much harm? Because Paris Hilton has one? This whole issue shines light on how stupid the general population is, and how much people trust the media to tell them what reality is.

    Good job Maryland. Way to contribute to the problem.

  18. While I agree that it usually is the environment a dog grows up in that effects how they respond to people, it is the responsibility of the owners for the control of their dogs and it is the owners who should be charged criminally for their dogs acts. Consider the fact that there are some breeds of dogs that have a higher incidence of attacking humans as can be viewed at the website attached.

    • Avatar Of Graeme



      I agree 100% that the owners should be held liable for their pets. Afterall, the animal is their property. If someone comes into my home, and the chandelier falls on their head, they don’t then go and destroy the chandelier. No, they would hold me accountable. Just because a dog is alive and you can kill it, doesn’t make it right to do so. If a person not of sound mind commits a crime, they are not charged with the same crimes as a person who was fully in their right mind. How is a dog any different than that? It is the owner that made the conscious decision to allow the dog to be in that situation (most of the time).

      My dog is dangerous to other dogs, therefore I do not take her for walks or to the park.. That is what a responsible owner does.

      • Avatar Of Rebecca Schernitzki

        Rebecca Schernitzki


        I was going to write a comment, but after reading Graeme’s responses, I don’t need to. I felt like I was reading my own words. Brilliant.

  19. Avatar Of Dog Loverinpa

    Dog LoverInPA


    I totally support the MD ruling. The facts back it up. Take a look at the statistics logged in a Nataional DB. dogsbite.org/dog-bite-statistics.php

    • Avatar Of Nceva



      The statistics you cite do NOT support the notion that pit bulls and pit bull mixes are “inherently” vicious dogs. These statistics only claim to show the breeds most responsible for serious injury and death, not the cause of the dogs’ behavior. Are these cited attacks the result of an “inherently” vicious nature in these breeds? Or do more of these dogs behave in a vicious manner because these are the breeds most often trained to be vicious by their owners?

  20. Avatar Of Liz



    Take a look at the human race. There are more dangerous and vicious people in the world than there are pit bulls. Leave the dogs alone.

  21. Avatar Of Jason Massie

    Jason Massie


    Maryland has no knowlegde of the pitbull breed.I was never around one untilI was 16,that’s when I discovered what a sweet breed they are.Don’t hurt the breed,punish the irresponsible owner!

  22. Avatar Of Tristan Walker

    Tristan Walker


    This is a miscarriage of justice of the highest degree….just today I’ve heard of 2 different pitbulls saving their owners lives….both hurt in the process of doing so,one losing a leg……and yet they are vicious inherently,are you kidding me!Stop blaming the breed for something that we(humans)teavh them to do.Irresponsible owners should be held accountable,not an entire breed for a few bad seeds.

  23. Avatar Of Laura Brewer laura brewer says:

    The people trying to pass this law are stupid do you home work people its not the dogs fault that the owner puts them on chains and in fighting rings.please dont put the dog down they can be good dogs they were born good dogs and they will with alittle love from someone that cares give someone a chance to love the animal.put the owner in jail. these dogs weren’t born to fight the owners did that for them all they want is to be loved and part of a family give them a chance.

  24. Avatar Of Laura Brewer laura brewer says:

    you know the people that are trying to pass this law are very stupid people. do your home work people this breed is not vicious their owners are they are the ones that get the blame but it is the owneers fault that the dog are the way that thay are. i think that animal abuse should be a class c feloney these dogs dont want to fight they want to be loved. please make them a part of your family dont put them on chains or in a fighting ring that is cruel and unjust and the owner should be oput in jail the dog should be put down because the owner is stupid..

  25. Avatar Of Joan Morgan

    Joan Morgan


    I couldn’t have said it any better Carolyn – I have Rotties and have had Rotties forever and find the same stupid people who feel that way feel the same about Rotties. Some day hopefully the people who abuse their dogs will get their day. I could babble on and on but I think I got my point across. Amen

  26. Avatar Of Carolyn Hamilton

    carolyn hamilton


    I will tell you who is vicious. Its the one who runs the shelters that still gas innocent dogs to death. Its the one who beats and abuses their dog. Its the one who dumps their dog off along side the road to die. All dogs are different.If a pit is vicious, you can bet that a human was behind it somehow. The only dog that has ever bit me was a Husky. I volunteer at a shelter and not one pit has bit me. Humans and their cruelty to animals are the vicious ones. Shame on that ruling and all who were involved!

  27. Avatar Of Holly Holly says:

    I Will contest this ruling. I have known owners of very nice and sweet pit bulls. Good and faithful dogs, and babies and childern raised around them. The first pit bull i met was ivory. She was found on a one foot chain in a back yard with no food water and tick invested, that my friend did some work for. He was so broken hearted over this dog, he went back with chain cutters in the night and got her. He spent the next day picking off the ticks, and had to get most of her teeth pulled out as she was so malnurshished she lost them. That was like over ten years ago and ivory still lives a happy life with a grade school child and a new baby plus another dog. She is the most loving dog i know. please dont persecute the breed. Hold the owners responsible. Stop letting animal abusers go free.

  28. Avatar Of Peg Pruitt

    Peg Pruitt


    I wonder how they arrived at this conclusion. Did any animal experts weigh in? Or did they rely on anecdotal “evidence”? Can this decision be appealed?

    • Avatar Of Crystle Crystle says:

      The following statistics is how they came to this conclusion.
      In the 8-year period from 2005 to 2012, pit bulls killed 151 Americans and accounted for 60% of the total recorded deaths (251). Combined, pit bulls and rottweilers accounted for 73% of these deaths.
      Most dogs that are beaten and trained to kill, refuse to do so and become more loving trying to get love from his owner. Pittbulls and Rottweilers on the other hand do become vicious and killers because it is inbred into them!! Instinctively they are bred for one reason, to kill and fight! I have read of many pittbulls and Rottweilers that have turned on their owners and smaller children!

  29. Avatar Of Carole Ranger Spencer

    Carole Ranger Spencer


    I disagree with the Maryland Court of Appeals decision. Pit Bulls are not inherently dangerous unless trained to be that way by humans. Pit Bulls get a bad rap because some bad guys use them as fighting dogs. We can’t blame the breed, we must blame the owners of the dogs who attack, whether they are Pit Bulls or not. It’s the human owners who are responsible for their dogs behavior. Because of its reputation many Pits end up in the hands of humans who have no idea how to care for a dog, much less train it. These dogs are the ones that are frequently abused or neglected and certainly not trained in how to act around people. These are the dogs that are unpredictable and it’s the fault of humans, not the dogs. Well socialized Pits are as friendly and trustworthy as any other breed. As Cesar Milan said “In the sixties it was the German Sheperds, in the seventies it was the Dobermans, in the eighties it was the Rottweilers, now the dangerous breed is the Pit Bull. When are we going to blame the humans?” Breed specific legislation hurts the many owners of well behaved and trustworthy Pit Bulls because of the actions of a few bad dog owners.

    • Avatar Of Crystle Crystle says:

      AND the following statistics are also wrong I presume? Pittbulls and Rottweiler lovers have a very sadistic instinct in them. Maybe they feel like they are carrying a gun for protection with one of these dogs. Read the following statistics and tell them they are wrong.
      In the 8-year period from 2005 to 2012, pit bulls killed 151 Americans and accounted for 60% of the total recorded deaths (251). Combined, pit bulls and rottweilers accounted for 73% of these deaths.
      SO, tell me again how great and sweet they are?? Of course it’s all the owners right??

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