The Post is correct that the Maryland General Assembly must take action on pit-bull legislation [“Beware of dog legislation,” editorial, March 24]. The failure of lawmakers to reach a compromise puts dogs and their owners at risk, as families are forced to face a painful and life-changing decision: move out of their homes, or give up their beloved dogs.
As a result of this inaction in Annapolis, animal shelters are receiving more pit-bull-type dogs, and landlords are evicting renters. Without a legislative fix, such actions are sure to multiply and leave dog owners, landlords, property managers and others in limbo.
The law must be corrected, because breed alone is not predictive of whether a dog is dangerous. A dog’s propensity to bite is a product of several factors, including early socialization, its living conditions and the owner’s behavior. For example, chained dogs and non-neutered dogs are much more likely to bite.
Many dogs that merely resemble the pit-bull-type look will be punished, which will lead to expensive court battles over whether a dog is or isn’t a pit bull. The legal framework created by the Maryland Court of Appeals is not just an anti-pit bull policy, it’s an anti-dog policy. We can do better for dogs and public safety.
Tami Santelli, Bethesda
The writer is Maryland state director for the Humane Society of the United States.
A few years ago, when my son was 3 years old, he was viciously attacked by two large, off-leash dogs as he played in the woods behind our house. If his grandmother had not been close to him at the time, these dogs might have killed him.
He had to go through extensive therapy to get over his fear of dogs, including the sound of dogs barking, a ubiquitous feature of suburban life. He will bear the scars for the rest of his life. The dogs’ owners, meanwhile, got off scot-free because previous attacks by these dogs (there were several) had not been reported to the police and Virginia law does not properly place the onus of responsibility on dog owners.
While the vast majority of pet owners are responsible, legislation must be strengthened to ensure that those who do not control their dogs by following local leash laws are held criminally responsible when their dogs are involved in attacks.
Erland Herfindahl, Springfield