Bill to address pit bull rulling moves forward in General Assembly

March 07, 2014|By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun

A House committee voted to approve a bill that would upend a court ruling that pit bulls are inherently more dangerous than other dogs, indicating that a long impasse with the Senate has been broken.

By a lopsided vote, the Judiciary Committee agreed to the amendments added to the bill in the Senate and sent the measure to the House floor. The bill would end the different treatment of pit bulls but make it easier for victims of bites by other breeds of dog to collect damages than under current law.

The measure is a compromise between the Senate, which wanted to adopt a strict liability standard, and the House, which wanted to give dog owners more of a chance to mount a defense.

The bill arises out of a 2012 ruling by the Court of Appeals that brought an outcry by pit bull owners. Both the Senate and the House wanted to overturn the ruling but couldn't agree on a common approach that year or in 2013, when a compromise unraveled in the session's last hours.

The committee vote signals that the issue is likely to be resolved this year.

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