A bill that has been introduced in Maryland that would prohibit breed discriminatory laws on the state level is being heard by the House Judiciary Committee today.
The catalyst for this bill is likely the situation with the Maryland court of appeals ruling that found “pure breed pit bulls” to be inherently dangerous, and that landlords were to be held strictly liable if a tenants “pit bull” caused injury to some one.
HB 422 , a bill which currently has 10 sponsors, would do several things. The first is that it would prevent municipalities from enacting dangerous dog laws on the local level that single out any one breed or type of dog. This bill would also prohibit landlords from refusing to rent to a person based on the heritage of their dog, as well as protecting renters from eviction because of their dog.
This is the first state-wide bill to specifically address landlord discrimination in rental practices based on the appearance of the dog. It is not surprising that this would come out of Maryland at this time, considering the issues that have arisen out of the Tracey v Solesky ruling.
The pertinent text of the bill is listed below.
” (B) A MUNICIPALITY MAY NOT:
(1) ADOPT AN ORDINANCE PROHIBITING A PERSON FROM OWNING, KEEPING, OR HARBORING A DOG OF A SPECIFIC BREED, TYPE, OR HERITAGE; OR
(2) DETERMINE A DOG TO BE A NUISANCE, POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS, DANGEROUS, OR INHERENTLY DANGEROUS, OR OTHERWISE REGULATE A DOG BASED ON THE BREED, TYPE, OR HERITAGE OF THE DOG.
12 13–102.1. (A) THIS SECTION MAY NOT BE CONSTRUED TO PROHIBIT A COUNTY FROM RESTRICTING THE OWNING, KEEPING, OR HARBORING OF A DANGEROUS DOG, AS DEFINED IN § 10–619(A) OF THE CRIMINAL LAW ARTICLE, OR A DOG THAT HAS BEEN DETERMINED TO BE POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS IN ACCORDANCE WITH § 10–619(C) OF THE CRIMINAL LAW ARTICLE.
(B) A COUNTY MAY NOT:
(1) ENACT A LOCAL LAW PROHIBITING A PERSON FROM OWNING, KEEPING, OR HARBORING A DOG OF A SPECIFIC BREED, TYPE, OR HERITAGE; OR
(2) DETERMINE A DOG TO BE A NUISANCE, POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS, DANGEROUS, OR INHERENTLY DANGEROUS, OR OTHERWISE REGULATE A DOG BASED ON THE BREED, TYPE, OR HERITAGE OF THE DOG…
(C) REGARDLESS OF THE TERMS OF ANY CONTRACT, DEED, COVENANT, RESTRICTION, INSTRUMENT, DECLARATION, RULE, BYLAW, LEASE AGREEMENT, RENTAL AGREEMENT, OR ANY OTHER DOCUMENT, A HOMEOWNER OR TENANT MAY NOT BE:
(1) PROHIBITED FROM OWNING, KEEPING, OR HARBORING A DOG OF A SPECIFIC BREED, TYPE, OR HERITAGE; OR
(2) DENIED OCCUPANCY IN OR EVICTED FROM RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY SOLELY BECAUSE THE PERSON OWNS, KEEPS, OR HARBORS A DOG OF A SPECIFIC BREED, TYPE, OR HERITAGE.”
This bill also specifically addresses current breed discriminatory ordinances, and would nullify them. This means that any and all existing breed discriminatory laws would be repealed by this bill.
Nothing in the bill prohibits any municipality, or landlord from rejecting dogs that have proven, based on their behavior, to be dangerous.
One of the largest issues effecting shelter populations of typically targeted dogs is a lack of pet friendly rentals. This bill is an opportunity to address this problem and will set the precedent for other states to do the same, as well as repealing the long-standing breed discriminatory ordinances in Maryland. The bill is set for its first hearing today. Local groups have been working hard on support for this bill.
When the hearing is completed, we will know more specifically what is needed from Maryland residents in order to help support passage of this bill.