Between Breed Specific Legislation in PG County and the recent Court of Appeals decision that all pit bulls are to be labeled vicious, it's time for the voices of the people to be heard and Governor O'Malley to ban BSL in Maryland.
This isn't a discrimination against dogs, it's a discrimination against people. Responsible homeowners will suffer as their homeowner's insurance will rise. Displaced homeowners will find it even more difficult to find housing. Innocent dogs will be euthanized in shelters based solely on their breed. And it won't fix the problem.
The problem is responsible dog ownership regardless of breed.
The courts say pit bulls are "vicious." Not only is their evidence to the contrary (outlined in the petition letter), but it is innocent people that will suffer, rather than Maryland becoming "safer" as a result of this decision.
Governor O'Malley should ban any discrimination based on breed and enact stronger leash and vicious dog laws instead. Please sign my petition and let's change the legislation in the State of Maryland.
The impact of the most recent Court of Appeals case in which pit bulls are automatically considered “vicious” is the highest of my concerns. As a responsible home owner in Montgomery County, I can testify that is extremely difficult to find home owners insurance for those who own certain breeds of dogs. While many states have rightly outlawed breed discrimination, Maryland seems to be one of the few that is going in the opposite direction.
Home owners insurance is required by a mortgage contract, so what is normally a couple hundred dollars per year will now skyrocket because of the recent Court of Appeals decision, forcing many responsible dog owners to have to make a difficult financial decision to have to take their pets to the shelter or leave Maryland. Owners that are responsible citizens that pay taxes, own homes, and obey state laws will be forced to euthanize their beloved pets because of this ruling. Shelters are overrun with dogs and this ruling will make it more difficult for dogs to be adopted, so anyone dropping their pet at the shelter will be sentencing their family dog to death.
Here are the real facts surrounding the “pit bull” breed and why responsible dog ownership should be the focus of your decision and not specific dog breeds:
1. First and foremost, understand that pit bulls are not actually a category of dog, but rather a label that the media has endorsed and that is not recognized by the AKC. The dogs that fall under this label are in the Terrier category. This is important to the conversation, because as you can see there is clear confusion as to what constitutes an actual "pit bull."
2. Pit bulls are not inherently vicious. They are bred to be human centric. In fact, according to a 2008 study in the Journal of Applied Animal Behaviour Science, the top breeds most likely to bite are the Chihuahua, Dachshund and Jack Russell Terrier. If you look at The American Temperament Testing Society's (http://atts.org) most recent 2011/2012 statistics, the American Pit Bull Terrier ranks higher than a Golden Retreiver, Boxer, Bull Dog, Dalmatian, Shi Tzu, and many other common pets that are not being labeled as vicious.
3. BSL does not work. BSL, which stands for Breed Specific Legislation, has been in effect in Prince George's County since 1997. A 2003 study noted that the ban has not resulted in a decrease in dog bites. Specifically, it stated that “public safety is not improved as a result of [the ban],” and that “there is no transgression committed by owner or animal that is not covered by another, non-breed specific portion of the Animal Control Code (i.e., vicious animal, nuisance animal, leash laws).” With this ban costing PG County $250,000 annually with no improvements, I'd encourage you to look at the ASPCA's website on the issue: http://www.aspca.org/fight-animal-cruelty/dog-fighting/breed-specific-legislation.aspx
While pit bulls are not the problem, responsible dog ownership is. I encourage you to enact legislation that would make it illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against a homeowner simply because of the dog they own, and outlaw Breed Specific Legislation in the state of Maryland.
Instead of labeling a certain breed, please consider enacting stronger dog ownership laws, including higher fines for dogs at large, as well as, penalties for vicious dogs regardless of breed.