A West Baltimore city councilwoman is proposing to ban, or at least strongly restrict, the ownership of pit bull and other dangerous dogs, formally launching a debate on how best to regulate vicious dogs.
Two separate bills from Councilwoman Agnes B. Welch are expected to be introduced at Monday's City Council meeting. The action comes in the wake of last month's mauling of a 7-year-old girl by a pit bull in Southwest Baltimore.
An outright ban, such as that in Prince George's County, does not appear to have broad support.
Also at Monday's meeting, Council President Sheila Dixon is expected to introduce legislation that would bar stores from displaying cigarettes where they can be reached by customers. The bill, inspired by a similar Howard County law, is aimed at curbing illegal sales to minors.
Welch's proposal would prohibit the ownership of pit bulls or any other dogs "trained to attack" on command or to protect people or property. Violators would face a fine of up to $1,000 and 12 months' imprisonment.
Her other bill would require a specific license to own pit bulls and other "dangerous animals." Anyone younger than 21 or anyone who had been convicted of a felony or a violent offense would not be eligible to own a pit bull. Also, owners would have to carry liability insurance of at least $25,000.
The city's health commissioner, Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, is working on legislation that would require the licensing of pit bulls and other dogs bred to be "fighting animals."
He also may propose requiring owners of the dogs to have a microchip implanted in the animals. The chips would contain information about whether the dog had been spayed or neutered.
Welch said last night that she wants the council to take action on pit bulls before the weather warms up and more dogs are on the streets.