Tag Archives: legislation

Maryland update: House will consider bills to reverse breed-discriminatory court decision, Aug 13

The Maryland Senate has passed the “dog bite bill” in an attempt to resolve the many problems caused by the recent Tracey v. Solesky court decision. Among other changes, the Senate bill moves all dog owners to strict liability, regardless of the dog’s breed.

The Maryland House will take up the issue on Monday, August 13. There are four different House bills dealing with this issue: HB 2, HB 3, HB 4, and HB 5. These bills are all slightly different. Only HB 2 moves all dog owners to strict liability (like the Senate bill). The other three proposals would restore common law liability.

There’s no question that most Maryland legislators DO want to undo the Solesky court decision. But they don’t all agree on how that should be done. Some legislators and individuals have valid concerns about the Senate bill and the hasty move to strict liability. Others feel that something is better than nothing. All are concerned that the effort to fix the court ruling will fall apart if they can’t reach consensus.

The House bills can be read here:
HB 2: http://mlis.state.md.us/2012s2/bills/hb/hb0002f.pdf
HB 3: http://mlis.state.md.us/2012s2/bills/hb/hb0003f.pdf
HB 4: http://mlis.state.md.us/2012s2/bills/hb/hb0004f.pdf
HB 5: http://mlis.state.md.us/2012s2/bills/hb/hb0005f.pdf

Maryland: Bill to repeal breed-discriminatory court case to be discussed Aug 9 & 10

The second special session of the Maryland legislature begins on August 9. As we hoped, the legislature will attempt to resolve the many problems caused by the recent Tracey v. Solesky court decision, which imposed strict liability on “pit bull” owners and their landlords but did not do the same for owners of any dog that does not look like a “pit bull.” (The court decision is not in effect yet.)

Unfortunately, we have not been able to get the draft bill, so we can’t talk specifics. According to the bill authors, the proposed bill would impose strict liability on all dog owners, regardless of their dog’s breed, and would reverse the liability that was imposed on landlords. We do not know whether the new draft bill includes a clause to prohibit municipalities from passing BSL, as one of the draft bills from the first special session did.

Special sessions are extremely short, and already concerns have been raised that there’s not enough concensus among legislators to get the bill pushed through so quickly:

Although Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat, said he’s “optimistic” that a bill could pass during the special session that starts Thursday, he cautioned that the issue is complex and could be derailed if opposition arises.

Frosh said that he does not believe there would be time in a special session to consider multiple bills and amendments. “If there is not a broad consensus, this is not going to happen,” he said.

Retrieved 8/8/12 from http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-08-06/news/bs-md-special-session-weighs-pit-bulls-20120806_1_pit-bull-dog-owners-aileen-gabbey

Maryland residents can contact their Senators and Delegates and urge them to take action to reverse the Solesky decision. Supporters can also attend the following committee hearings to show their support in person.

The following meetings are scheduled:

Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee
When: Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 1:00 PM
Where: 2 East, Miller Senate Building, 11 Bladen Street, Annapolis, MD
Subject: Hearing on 3lr3512 – Civil Actions – Liability for Personal Injury or Death Caused by Dog (Senators Frosh, Raskin, and Gladden)
NOTE: Anyone wishing to testify on this bill must sign the witness register before 12:45 P.M. If you have written testimony, please submit 20 copies to the staff for distribution by 12:00 P.M.

House Judiciary Committee
When: Friday, August 10, 2012 at 1:30 P.M.
Where: Room 100, House Office Building, 6 Bladen Street, Annapolis, MD
Subject: Bill Hearing on Pit Bull Legislation

The following rally is also planned for August 9 in Annapolis. Please visit the link for all the details. https://www.facebook.com/events/441943509183265/

Good luck in Maryland!

Massachusetts S.2192 signed by governor

Massachusetts S.2192, a comprehensive overhaul of Massachusetts state animal control laws, was signed by the governor today. The new law specifically states: “No city or town shall regulate dogs in a manner that is specific to breed.”

In essence, BSL will be illegal in Massachusetts when the law goes into effect at the end of October. Massachusetts joins 12 other U.S. states that prohibit municipalities from passing breed-specific laws.

The big question now is: What about the cities in Massachusetts that currently have BSL in place?

The answer is not as cut and dry as you’d expect. State law generally preempts (takes precedence over) municipal ordinances, but there are several ways that cities can get around the preemption and keep their BSL, most commonly using “grandfathering” (as happened in Miami-Dade) or “home rule” (as is common in Colorado and Illinois) justifications. In particular, every state handles home rule a bit differently; some states severely limit home rule powers, while other states are more flexible. From what I’ve gathered so far, there are differing opinions about whether cities that are in conflict with the new state law (e.g. Boston) can use home rule as a viable defense of their BSL.

I know that’s not the answer you were looking for, but unfortunately, we may have to wait for a better answer. I expect that, as news of the law’s passage sinks in, city councils across the state will consult with their attorneys to figure out what, if anything, they need to do in response to the changes in state law. Legislators and judges may also weigh in. We’ll know more as time goes on.

In the meantime, congratulations to Massachusetts for sweeping animal control reform and for making a stand against BSL.

Law bans breed-specific dog regulation

By Steve Decosta, sdecosta@s-t.com
August 02, 2012 6:06 PM

With New Bedford Animal Control Officer Manny Maciel by his side today, Gov. Deval Patrick signed a new, broad-based animal control bill into law, that, among its many provisions, prevents the regulation of dogs based solely on breed.

Stating clearly that “No city or town shall regulate dogs in a manner that is specific to breed,” the legislation ends debate in New Bedford and elsewhere on whether pits bulls should be banned.

The law further states that “no dog shall be deemed dangerous … based upon the breed of such dog.” […]

Full article retrieved 8/2/12 from http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120802/NEWS/120809957

Many thanks to the MSPCA for keeping us up to date. Visit their page to learn more about the many changes that this bill brings to Massachusetts: http://www.mspca.org/about-us/press-room/2012/mspca-angell-joins-governor.html

Bill tracking page: http://www.malegislature.gov/Bills/187/Senate/S02192

All alerts for S.2192: https://stopbsl.org/?s=S.2192

Massachusetts S.2192 moves forward (would prohibit BSL statewide)

UPDATE 8/2/12: S.2192 was signed by the governor today and will become effective in 90 days. Congratulations to Massachusetts!

Massachusetts S.2192 is a bill that overhauls Massachusetts state animal laws. It includes several clauses that would prohibit municipalities in MA from passing breed-specific laws. S.2192 is on track for third reading in the House.

The most recent amendment to S.2192, which is House document 4266, contains two clauses that would prohibit BSL:

Section 157. (a) Any person may file a complaint in writing to the hearing authority complaining that a dog owned or kept in the city or town is a nuisance dog or is a dangerous dog; provided, however, that no dog shall be deemed dangerous: […] (ii) based upon the breed of such dog; […]

No city or town shall regulate dogs in a manner that is specific to breed.

You can read the full text of the proposed bill, and amendments here: http://www.malegislature.gov/Bills/187/Senate/S02192

We do not not know whether the bill would be retroactive (e.g. would force MA municipalities that currently have BSL to repeal those laws).

All alerts for S.2192: https://stopbsl.org/?s=S.2192

Thanks to Carolyn for letting us know that S.2192 has moved forward.

East Coast bike relay event to protest BSL, Aug 29–Sept 2

Bless the Bullys Pit Bull Rescue & Education and Southern Ontario Animal Rescue (SOAR) invite you to take part in a unique effort to bring awareness to breed specific legislation, rescue, and responsible dog ownership.

Bikers and Bullys Without Borders” is a bike ride from Miami, Florida to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and is an effort to demonstrate a united stance against BSL. Just as BSL has no borders, the effort to stop it knows no borders, as well.

The ride is taking place from August 29 to September 2, 2012. It starts in Miami, FL and goes up the east coast finishing in Toronto, Canada.

We are dedicating the ride to Lennox and the Barnes family, the people who loved and fought to save his life. After a two year battle, Lennox was killed last week by the Belfast, Ireland council simply because he looked like a “pit bull.” We are having a stuffed Lennox made, and along each stop on the route, he will be handed off to the next group of riders, along with any notes of condolence and support to the Barnes family. After the ride, both the stuffed Lennox and all the cards and letters will be sent to the Barnes family to show that although we are separated by thousands of miles, we stand united with them in their fight, and we all mourn the death of an innocent animal.

You don’t need to be part of an animal welfare organization to take part in the ride…you only need to have a desire to see BSL come to an end so that no dog and no family ever face the heartbreak and anguish of breed specific legislation again.

SOAR is organizing the troops for a vote on the Ontario pit bull ban in September, and using the bike rally as a fundraiser for their efforts to end BSL there. However, those taking parts in the states can simply use the ride to bring awareness to the fight against BSL, and to promote rescue and responsible dog ownership.

We need every leg of the ride filled – even if its just one bike – so that Lennox and our messages to the family can make it to Canada. Please consider taking part in this very special event, and share this with your friends and bike clubs who may be interested in taking part. Just like the effort to stop BSL, we really need YOU to make this happen!

More information on the ride can be found at the SOAR website, or you can contact me at jodi@blessthebullys.com. The route for the ride can be found here.

Maryland: OAG says court decision on “pit bulls” is not in effect

The Maryland Court of Appeals decision in Tracey v. Solesky, which put “pit bull” owners and landlords under a strict liability scheme, is now under appeal. Until the appeal is ruled on, the court decision is on hold.

Meanwhile, the Maryland legislature does not appear likely to meet for a second special session this summer. The so-called “pit bull task force” of the Maryland legislature will continue to meet and discuss legislative remedies for the discriminatory decision. We expect them to file a bill that would effectively nullify the court decision in December/January when the Maryland legislature reconvenes.

Pit bulls not ‘inherently dangerous’ just yet

Md. attorney general’s office says controversial court ruling must survive appeal before being applied

By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun
7:29 p.m. EDT, July 11, 2012

A controversial court ruling in April that pit bulls are “inherently dangerous” is not yet in effect and must survive an appeal before it can be applied as Maryland law, according to an opinion released this week by the state attorney general’s office.

The opinion, written by Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Rowe in response to a request from Montgomery County Del. Heather Mizeur for advice on how to understand the ruling, says a motion for reconsideration of the ruling now before the Maryland Court of Appeals “delays the effect of the decision.”

In April, the state’s highest court held that pit bulls and mixed pit bull breeds are different from other dogs in that they are dangerous by nature. The ruling increased the liability of pit bull owners and others with a modicum of control over the animals, such as landlords, by removing the need for those bringing suit after a dog attack to prove they knew the dog had a history of being dangerous. That proof was previously required and is still required for other breeds. […]

Full article retrieved 7/12/12 from http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-pit-bull-ruling-20120711,0,7289478.story

Belfast, N. Ireland, UK: Lennox killed by officials, but his legacy remains

We first reported on Lennox in late 2010, after he was seized from his home by authorities who said his appearance fit their idea of a “pit bull type” — a “type” of dog that is not legal in the U.K. Lennox had not actually done anything wrong; he was born looking “wrong.”

After two years of court battles, not even high-profile advocates and celebrities, tens of thousands of ordinary citizen supporters, and multiple sanctuary offers could save Lennox. Belfast refused to compromise. Lennox was killed yesterday by Belfast authorities simply for the crime of looking like a “pit bull.”

Lennox is not the only dog to be put down simply for being the wrong shape. We’ve shared with you many other individual dogs who have had the misfortune to be born with the wrong appearance in the wrong place. Breed discriminatory laws are everywhere, from cities in the U.S., to provinces like Ontario, to entire countries like the U.K. But although Lennox’s circumstances are not unique, he and his family had a large outpouring of public support that was quite unusual.

Lennox has become a symbol for many people of the injustice that is BSL. We also know that many people first heard about BSL because of Lennox.

We are hopeful that Lennox’s plight and the injustice to his human family, the Barnes family, leaves in his followers a legacy of awareness about BSL and a long-burning passion to stop BSL across the globe.

Our sympathies today are with the Barnes family and the many other families around the world who have lost friends, companions, and family dogs for no other reason than that their dog was born with the wrong physical appearance.

Breed discriminatory laws are in effect in many places. Innocent people and voiceless animals are suffering. If you haven’t already, please join us as we continue our efforts to stop BSL.

We appreciate these wise words from Animal Farm Foundation: “Every day there is a need — and an opportunity — to ‘Save Lennox.'”

More thoughtful commentary from KC Dog Blog: http://btoellner.typepad.com/kcdogblog/2012/07/lennox-the-dog-is-dead-and-the-power-of-channeled-passion.html