A Maryland Reaction

May 4, 2012  

The author shares how the state’s recent court of appeals decision is impacting pit bull guardians

By Ann Coleman

Disbelief. Fear. Shock. Panic. Anger.

This is what I felt and saw this week. I’m a resident of Baltimore, Md., and one of the hundreds of area advocates for pit bulls who couldn’t believe what we were hearing and seeing. Our dogs are “inherently dangerous”? The dogs we work so hard to save, to advocate for, to train and show off and live with and love?

As it began to sink in that this law meant more than just “landlords are responsible for bad pit bull owners” the reactions and emotions rose like a flood. It’s hard to explain what it’s like to go from helping to put on a showing of “Beyond the Myth” in early April and learning just how bad breed-discriminatory legislation has been other places to spending the last days of April realizing that it is all happening in your state by people who had bad information, false statistics and questionable motives.

I am OK. In a timely twist of fate I bought a house Friday. I don’t have to worry about a landlord throwing me out because my dog is a pit bull mix. But my friends, fellow volunteers and responsible dog owners statewide are all facing a huge and heartbreaking decision. What if their landlords make them choose? What can they do? Where will the dogs go? Our shelters are full of pit bulls. Who will adopt these wonderful dogs at the risk of losing their home? This is happening now.

The final straw, as they say, was reading a truly unkind and factless editorial in The Baltimore Sun, written by a man I had considered a journalist. To have someone from my local paper write things like “Until they are banned outright, pit bulls should not be allowed in public” and that “Pit bull jaws are three times stronger than those of a German Shepard [sic]” was simply too much. I felt paralyzed. So many lives, dreams and life’s work carelessly thrown aside.

People in the world of animal and pit bull advocacy have reached out from all over the country and even other countries to both support Maryland pit bull owners, and it has been a help. But we will need so much more help and support if we are going to get through this tough time and help all the owners and dogs who have been affected by this injustice. If this can happen in Maryland, it can happen anywhere, and I fear that is the idea. We will all need to stand together to make things right.

Editor’s Note: What You Can Do:
* The HSUS suggests you call and write Maryland state legislators to respectfully voice your concerns, and urge them to work with advocates on legislation in the next session that provides rational, science-based dangerous dog policies for the state.
* If you are impacted by this decision in Maryland, we also encourage you to write to us here at StubbyDog and share your story as well as what you would like to tell Maryland judges and officials. Send to laurap@stubbydog.org.
* Watch the B-More Dog website for information on an upcoming statewide rally. (You can also find information and resources related to this ruling at PBRC.)
* Sign the petition at Change.org.
* Last but not least, reply to faulty news articles by writing a respectful letter to the editor. Check out our Pit Bulls by the Numbers PDF.

« « Pit Bulls by the Numbers | My Dog is a Superstar Because … » »


4 Responses to “A Maryland Reaction”
  1. AnnColeman says:

    Thank you for asking me to write this piece. We will need all the help and support we can get in MD.   

    •  @AnnColeman We’re located in Fredericksburg, Va; please let us know what we can do to help.  Maryland Dog Federation will be holding a meeting Sunday, May 6th at Coventry School for Dogs, 7165 Oakland Mills Rd, Suites A-J, Columbia, MD 21046.  We’ll be there!!

  2. JenGermann says:

    I thought this was a court decision, and not of the legislative process, that makes this particular situation so bad. Is there something in the legislative process that can even be done to combat it? Or will someone have to mount a legal case to get the ruling overturned?