I used to (sometimes) like to read Dan Rodricks when I lived in Baltimore. Even when I disagreed with him, I generally believed he seemed to be fairly well-informed on the topics he chose to write about. And then he comes out with this one, which is nothing but sensational and opportunistic, and it now casts a shadow over all the other columns I've read from him over the years. Rather than paint a complete picture, he's cherry-picking details and throwing around half-truths. His description of the MDSPCA March for the Animals where the pit bulls are all "tethered" and "chained" to their owners alone is intentionally inflammatory. I've been to that event every year for five years, and there were always plenty of friendly pit bulls on leashes, just like all the other dogs, that attended. They aren't tethered or chained, they're on leashes, as they should be. As all the dogs there should be. They don't make the event "weird" – they've always been well-represented in the rescue community in that city, and they're as much a part of the fabric of that event -- of that community -- as any other breed of dog. Is Rodricks making stuff up, or is he just that out of touch with what really goes on in Baltimore?
This column now casts everything I've read from Rodricks in doubt. I'm well aware of the details he writes about in his column, and as a result, I can see what he's trying to do and how he's trying to twist the facts to evoke outrage and emotion in readers. Makes me realize that's probably what he's done all along, on every topic he's ever covered.
What a damn shame.
Monday, April 30, 2012
Saturday, April 28, 2012
According to this news story from Baltimore TV news station WJZ, some shelters in Maryland are already freezing pit bull adoptions due to the new court ruling. Pauline from B-More Dog says legal experts in the state are working on this. If anyone wants to help or keep abreast of the situation, it would be a good idea to email B-More Dog at email@example.com. Sign up for their mailing list or visit them on Facebook and join their FB discussion group.
Friday, April 27, 2012
This is pretty horrifying, if you're a pit bull owner.
Way back in 2007, a horrific attack took place in Towson, Maryland. A young boy, named Dominic Solesky, was playing in an alley behind the rowhouse he lived in, when a neighbor's pit bull busted out of its pen and attacked him. He spent weeks in the hospital recovering, and Baltimore County legislators responded by proposing the passage of strict breed specific legislation that would have required all pit bull owners in the county to keep their dogs in locked cages when outdoors, muzzle their dogs in public and register them as "dangerous."
The proposal caused an outcry among Baltimore pit bull owners (myself included), who petitioned the county government and held a peaceful protest outside the county's administrative building. We spoke at the hearing and tried to explain to legislators that it's not the dog that's inherently dangerous – it's the person who owns the dog. That person has the ability to control his or her pet and should be aware enough of a dog's propensities (or lack thereof) for aggression. It's the people we need to legislate, not the dogs.
That battle was won -- sort of. The county law was not passed, and a group of concerned pit bull owners gathered together to form an organization that would target those people who owned pit bulls and might not be responsible. Our goal was, at the outset, to reach them with information and education and training, and to get them to take more responsibility for the animals in their care. The organization, which still exists, is called B-More Dog. I'm not a member anymore (I don't live in Maryland anymore), but they're still out there, trying to get people to spay and neuter their pets, putting people in contact with trainers, running shots clinics for pit bulls.
You know what else has been out there all this time, too? The Solesky case. And others like it. This week, the Maryland Supreme Court handed down a ruling on the case, Tracey vs. Solesky, which changes Maryland common law. In essence, it says that pit bulls are inherently dangerous and that people who own them are, basically, knowingly harboring dangerous animals. It goes on to say that landlords who knowingly rent to people who own them may also be held liable when a pit bull bites somebody. Here's an excerpt, which has been passed around the 'net all day:
STRICT LIABILITY ADOPTED IN RESPECT TO ATTACKS ON HUMANS BY PIT BULL DOGS AND CROSS-BRED PIT BULL DOGS.
Upon a plaintiff’s sufficient proof that a dog involved in an attack is a pit bull or a pit bull cross, and that the owner, or other person(s) who has the right to control the pit bull’s presence on the subject premises (including a landlord who has a right to prohibit such dogs on leased premises) knows, or has reason to know, that the dog is a pit bull or cross-bred pit bull, that person is liable for the damages caused to a plaintiff who is attacked by the dog on or from the owner’s or lessor’s premises. In that case a plaintiff has established a prima facie case of negligence. When an attack involves pit bulls, it is no longer necessary to prove that the particular pit bull or pit bulls are dangerous.
Here's the complete ruling, for anyone who wants more detail (scroll down for complete details). This part, in particular, is distressing to me
We recognize the problems that exist when breed specific legislation is proposed - which is opposed by pit bull breeders, owners and fanciers. Such opposition has been present for many years. Our opinion in the present case does not ban pit bulls, but puts a greater responsibility for vicious dogs where pit bull advocates have long argued it should be - with the owners and others who have the power of control over such dogs. Our opinion imposes greater duties by reducing the standards necessary to hold owners and others liable for the attacks of their pit bulls.Can't you impose those duties without punishing people for simply owning pit bulls, whether they are dangerous or not? Thanks to this ruling, expect the shelters to be flooded with pit bulls and pit bull owners to start losing their leases all across Maryland.
Maryland Pit Bull Case