Target: Martin O’Malley, Governor of Maryland
Goal: Object to a recent Maryland court’s ruling that pit bulls are inherently vicious, removing the onus of responsibility from possibly negligent dog owners.
Bias against pit bulls is nothing new, but a recent decision by the Maryland Court of Appeals takes public fear and misunderstanding of pit bulls to a whole new level. The court ruled that pit bulls are vicious, dangerous dogs by nature and makes no allowances for negligent ownership in cases of dog attacks. A blanket statement like this not only unfairly condemns pit bulls but also makes it easier for negligent owners to avoid responsibility for the actions of their pets. Sign the petition and urge Governor Martin O’Malley to take action to nullify the ruling.
Under the court’s ruling, it no longer matters if a dog involved in an attack has a history of violent behavior; as long as the dog is a pit bull, its breed is practically tantamount to a guilty verdict. Specifically, the law no longer requires victims of dog attacks to prove that the owner was negligent in order to receive restitution. All the victim must prove is “that the owner or anyone with the right to control the dog’s presence on the premises (such as a landlord) was aware the dog was at least part Pit Bull.”
While it’s true that pit bulls can be an aggressive breed of dog, this is something that the owner should know and be prepared to control. Do tragic accidents happen? Of course. Is every dog attack the fault of a negligent or abusive owner? No. To say so would be a gross over-generalization–almost as gross an over-generalization as pinning the blame for all dog attacks squarely on the breed of the dog in question. Furthermore, glossing over the role of a potentially negligent or abusive owner sets the stage for potential future attacks, since the law is addressing a symptom of the problem (an aggressive dog) rather than the source of the problem itself (a bad owner).
Tell Maryland to prosecute dog attack cases by examining the facts of the incident, not the dog’s pedigree. Sign the petition urging Governor O’Malley to nullify this unfair and counterproductive law.
Dear Governor O’Malley,
In recent years, many dog attacks have led the public to view pit bulls as inherently vicious and dangerous dogs. This is an understandable, if incorrect, assumption. What is not understandable, however, is the Maryland Court of Appeals’ decision which codifies fear-based biases into law. I urge you to take immediate action to overturn the Court of Appeals’ ruling that demonizes pit bulls for simply being pit bulls and to put the onus of responsibility back where it belongs: on the owner.
It is true that tragic accidents do happen, and sometimes dog owners simply cannot step in to stop a dog attack. However, to suggest that pit bull owners never have any control over their dogs–and to condemn those dogs as inherently violent and vicious–is a gross over-generalization that ignores the dog’s personal history, its relationship with the owner, the conditions in which it lives, and the circumstances that led to the attack. It is unfair to the dog and counterproductive to the justice process to condemn a dog based on its breed alone; removing responsibility from the owner means that a dog may end up taking the fall for a potentially negligent or abusive owner. Ignoring the owner’s role in the attack opens up the possibility for future attacks down the road, as a bad owner continues to maltreat or neglect his or her dogs.
I urge you to correct this unfair and ineffective law. Please support any legislation that would revise the Court of Appeals’ decision regarding pit bulls.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Beverly & Pack via Flickr