A Maryland appeals court judge has ruled that pit bulls are "inherently dangerous," making owners of the much-maligned breed more susceptible to lawsuits and liability in dog attack cases.
The ruling, handed down on April 26, stems from a case in which a child suffered critical injuries as a result of a pit bull attack. The opinion in Tracey v. Solesky declares that it's not necessary that the owner of a pit bull have knowledge that their specific pet is dangerous to be liable in such cases.
The judge's opinion cites numerous cases of pit bull attacks that resulted in severe injuries to victims as some of many reasons that the ruling was handed down.
"Because of its aggressive and vicious nature and its capability to inflict serious and sometimes fatal injuries, pit bulls and cross-bred pit bulls are inherently dangerous," the ruling states.
In this specific case, though, a young victim was attacked by Clifford, a pit bull, and suffered life-threatening injures that required five hours worth of surgery at a Baltimore-area hospital.
This ruling modifies Maryland's original common law about dog attacks, which stated that an owner had to have actual knowledge of a dog's violent tendencies to be held liable.
Drew Sandberg owns four pit bull terriers, all of them he's rescued from abusive situations.
He is angry about the Maryland ruling.
“It's going to make that your major organizations aren't going to want to rescue pit bulls out to people and it's going to make it worse situation,” he says. “And they are great dogs.”
The court's ruling stems from a Baltimore case where a 10-year-old boy was attacked by a pit bull terrier. The court decided it was not necessary to prove a particular pit bull is dangerous to win a lawsuit - it is only necessary to prove the dog is a pit bull.
John Portner has represented scores of victims of pit bull bites and says he has seen first-hand how devastating an attack can be. he says the court's ruling now puts pressure on state legislatures to change laws regarding pit bulls.
But veterinarian Dr. Katy nelson insists pit bulls are not inherently dangerous.
You can read the full ruling below or by clicking here: