Jul 26, 2014
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Pit Bull Bill Moves Forward, Passes Senate Committee

A bill that would overturn the state's Court of Appeals decision declaring pit bulls "inherently dangerous" overcame its first hurdle Thursday by passing a Senate committee hearing 6-3.

Pit Bull Bill Moves Forward, Passes Senate Committee

Maryland's Senate Judicial Services Committee voted 6-3 in favor of a bill that would overturn the state's Court of Appeals decision declaring pit bulls "inherently dangerous." 

Senators Norman Stone (D-District 6), Joseph Getty (R-District 5) and Nancy Jacobs (R- District 34) made up the minority.

Despite more than two hours of testimony before the committee, Senate Bill 2 passed without amendment. 

The legislation would overturn the breed distinction created by April's  Tracey v. Solesky ruling, which stated that "when an attack involves pit bulls, it is no longer necessary to prove that the particular pit bull or pit bulls are dangerous."

Instead, the bill's language tightens regulations on all dog owners by making them legally responsible for a first bite even if a pet has never been violent. But Senate Bill 2 loosens the requirements for landlords by removing the strict liability they have faced since the court's decision.

Sen. Robert Zirkin (D-District 11) tried to offer an amendment that would make landlords liable for bites that happen on their properties if they did not require renters to purchase insurance for their animals, but he ended up being the only vote in support of it.

Several members supported Zirkin's amendment in theory, but said it was too late in the game and there was too little time during special session to debate the pros and cons of requiring dog owners to purchase insurance. 

"This has got to go to the House," Sen. Victor Ramirez (D-District 47) said. "We've all dealt with the House for years; it's a nightmare to get anything done."

The House Judicary Committee will take up the bill Friday at 1:30 p.m.

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