Maryland legislative leaders on Wednesday launched a new task force to get a firmer grip on a recent court ruling that declared pit bulls to be “inherently dangerous.”
Under the ruling by the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, it will be easier to hold owners of pit bulls and cross-bred pit bulls legally resonsbile for bites even if the dog has no history of similar attacks.
The decision, which stemmed from a 2007 attack on a child in Towson, has galvanized pit bull owners — and sympathetic lawmakers — who question why a single breed should be singled out for different treatment under the law.
“This decision will have profound effects on dogs, dog owners, property owners, tenants and landlords,” House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Cavert) wrote in a letter to Gov. Matin O’Malley (D). “Therefore, we are appointing a Joint Task Force to study the court decision and make possible recommendations.”
Several lawmakers filed bills to effectively overturn the court ruling during the three-day special session this month related to budget issues. The bills were not acted upon, but some lawmakers and O’Malley suggested such legislation might be in order during a possible second special session this summer, devoted primarily to gambling issues.
Wednesday’s letter was vague about the timing of any legislation, saying only that the presiding officers hope for “some resolution and clarity to the issues raised by this decision in the near future.”
The 10-member task force includes members of both the House and Senate and from both political parties.
Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery) and Del. Curtis S. Anderson (D-Baltimore) will serve as co-chairmen.