Tag Archives: tracey v solesky

2014 Year in Review

It is time to take a look back at 2014, and what the year has brought us in the world of breed discriminatory laws.  2013 was a good year, but pales in comparison to what happened this year.

Below is a list of passages, repeals and rejections of breed discriminatory laws, as well as some notable court cases.  For our purposes, rejection means when a breed discriminatory law of any kind was brought up by an official and discussed.  Because of this, this list may vary from what others consider a rejection, which differs greatly depending on who is asked.  We use this definition in order to have a base from year to year, with which to compare.

Kennet, MO
Bonner Springs, KS
Canton, MI
Waterloo, WI
Bradford, PA
Clayton, MO
Garden City, KS
South Bend, Indiana
Washington Court, OH
Dearborn County, Indiana
Muscoda, WI
Hallsville, MO
Spring Hill, KS
Fairway, KS
Moreauville, LA
Cambridge, WI
16 total

Partial repeal:
Whitepine, Tennessee

El Dorado KS-rejected adding breeds to existing law
Cincinnati, OH
League City, TX
Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana
Randolph County, AR
Madison, WI
Medford, OR
Monticello, AR
Springdale, AR
Baker City, OR
10 total

Lake Elsinore, CA MSN
Carroll County, MS
Humphrey, AR (“pit bulls” Rottweilers and Bull Mastiffs)
3 total


In 2014 both Utah and South Dakota passed state-wide prohibitions against breed discriminatory laws.  Washington, Missouri and Maryland all attempted similar bills but ultimately the bills died at some point in the process.

Maryland:  Legislators finally passed a bill that over turned the disastrous court of appeals ruling in the case of Tracey v Solesky.  Legislators were hung up on the standard of liability for dog owners, but were unanimous about the need to over rule the landlord liability for dog bites and the breed discriminatory part of the ruling.  They finally reached a consensus after years of debate.

Court cases:

New Llano, Louisiana:  Unenforceable by court order.  The Nelson family sued the town of New Llano after they were told to remove their dog from the town or risk her being killed.  The Nelsons had just moved to New Llano and were un-aware of the ban.  Mazzy was held in boarding for a long time as the court case went through the process.  An injunction was filed and granted by the judge.  This case is still technically active.

Clay, Alabama:  In early 2013, the town of Clay passed a breed ban.  This was immediately challenged and mid 2013 an injunction was filed.  2014 saw that case before the courts and the judge ruled against the town.  A couple notable things about that case was the judge saying that the town cannot ban something they have had no issue with.  Officials admitted the ban was passed after the read an article about “pit bulls.”

We have seen repeated victories in court against Reynoldsburg, Ohio’s law, though they remain at the level of municipal court and are limited to people keeping their dogs and not challenging the law itself.

Aurora, Co:  Aurora became the second city to put a breed discriminatory law on the ballot and, though the ballot measure ultimately failed, we saw amazing success in messaging, as well as a stark reminder that many people are not even aware they are living under these laws.  A full analysis of the events can be found here: https://stopbsl.org/2014/11/06/aurora-colorado-the-good-the-bad-and-the-silver-lining/

2014 was a remarkable year for the rights of individuals and community safety.  More and more municipalities are seeing the failure of breed discriminatory laws and overturning them.  No doubt 2015 will be better.

It can be easy to lose sight of the larger picture when dealing with this fight day in and day out.  We hope that this post shows that the tide is, in fact, turning against breed discriminatory laws, and laws that target irresponsible and reckless owners are winning out.

If you know of a repeal, rejection or enactment that is not on this list, please let me know by e-mailing StopBSL.org@gmail.com.

Emergency bill filed in Maryland to reverse appeals court ruling

Last year a bill that would reverse the Maryland appeals court ruling that “pure breed pit bulls” are inherently dangerous failed to pass at the last-minute amidst disagreement over what the standard of liability for dog owners should be in Maryland.

The ruling in the case of  Tracey v Solesky stems from a dog attack in which a young child was seriously injured by a dog belonging to a renter.  A protracted legal battle ensued and eventually made it to the highest appeals court in Maryland.  A 4-3 ruling by the court declared that both pure breed and mixed “pit bulls” were inherently dangerous and landlords were automatically liable for damages caused by a tenants “pit bull.”  However, on motion for reconsideration, the ruling was changed to only “pure breed pit bulls,” which was undefined by the court. The ruling has had far-reaching consequences for owners of muscular, short-haired dogs.  Shelters reported increased in-take, and landlords began to threaten eviction.

Legislators had vowed to address the issue in the 2014 legislative session when their attempts in 2012 and 2013 failed.

To be clear, these attempts did not fail because of opposition to addressing the breed based language of the ruling nor did they fail because of any opposition to addressing the liability imposed on third parties by the court of appeals ruling.  They failed because of differing opinions on what if anything should be done with the standard of liability for dog owners, should it revert back to the common law before the ruling, become strict liability or meet in the middle.

HB73, Personal Injury or Death Caused by Dog – Rebuttable Presumption, has been filed as emergency bill and is sponsored by Senator Brian Frosh and Delegate Luiz Simmons.   As an emergency bill, if passed through the full legislative process, the bill would go into effect immediately upon passage.

Because of the repeated stalemates between the House and the Senate on what the standard of liability for dog owners should be, HB 73 has been drafted as a compromise between the two sides of the issue.  The bill raises the standard of liability from the former common law, what is commonly referred to as a “one free bite rule,” but stops short of strict liability, giving dog owners the ability to defend any allegations that the dog is dangerous by creating a rebuttable presumption.  Briefly, this means that in the case of a dog related incident a court would assume that the owner knew the dog was dangerous but the owner has the opportunity to prove that they had no prior knowledge of a dogs dangerous or vicious propensities.

HB 73 is set to be heard by the House Judiciary committee on January 23rd at 1pm.

Local groups are urging those who live in the districts of the members of the House Judiciary Committee to reach out as a constituent and ask them to support this compromise bill.  

The committee members district information is below.  If you live in one of these districts contact the appropriate legislator to politely but urgently let them know that Maryland needs a solution. Other Maryland residents are also encouraged to call or write their legislators to urge them to support this bill.

You can find your Representative on the state’s website by clicking the “Who Represents Me?” link on the top right of the column of Representatives.  Legislators on the House Judiciary Committee are listed below alphabetically by name, followed by their county and district number.  Contact information is available by clicking on the name.

Anderson, Curt– Baltimore City, 43
Arora, Sam– Montgomery, 19
Carter, Jill P.-Baltimore City, 41
Clippinger, Luke-Baltimore City, 46
Cluster, John W. E., Jr.-Baltimore, 8
Dumais, Kathleen M. (Vice Chair)-Montgomery, 15
Conaway, Frank M., Jr.-Wicomico and Worcester, 40
Glass, Glen-Hartford and Cecil, 34a
Hough, Michael J.-Frederick and Washington, 3b
Kelly, Kevin-Allegany, 1b
Lee, Susan C.-Montgomery, 16
McComas, Susan K.-Harford, 35b
McDermott, Michael A.-Wicomico and Worcester, 38b
Parrott, Neil-Washington, 2b
Rosenberg, Samuel I.-Baltimore City, 41
Simmons, Luiz R. S. -Montgomery, 17
Smigiel, Michael D., Sr.-Kent, Queen Anne’s, Cecil, and Caroline, 36
Swain, Darren M.-Prince George’s, 24
Valderrama, Kriselda-Prince George’s, 26
Valentino-Smith, Geraldine-Prince George’s, 23a
Vallario, Joseph F., Jr. (Chair)-Prince George’s and Calvert, 27a
Waldstreicher, Jeff-Montgomery, 18

Thank you Pauline and Tami for the information on HB 73.