Only a limited number of comprehensive studies have been conducted to address dog bite-related incidents in American communities.
In the 1970s, in reaction to concerns over a growing number of dog bite incidents in Baltimore City, Dr. David R. Berzon, a veterinarian specializing in public health issues, conducted and published three studies on the issue, two of which were co-authored with Dr. John B. DeHoff, who later served as Health Commissioner of Baltimore City.
The findings indicated that dog bites were dramatically increasing:
- - In 1953, there were 2,884 recorded dog bites in Baltimore City.
- In 1964, there were 4,442 recorded dog bites in Baltimore City.
- In 1970, there were 6,023 recorded dog bites in Baltimore City.
- In 1972, dog bites in Baltimore City reached an all-time high of 6,922.
In 1974, in response to the initial reports of Drs. Berzon and DeHoff, authorities in Baltimore took action, setting higher standards for all owners of all dogs, regardless of breed or type. It was made clear that Baltimore owners must recognize their individual obligation to keeping their community and their dogs safe. Among other changes, the city:
- - Enacted a comprehensive Animal Control Ordinance (1974).
- - Increased survelliance of animal bites.
- - Promoted an inter-agency cooperation regarding bite incidents.
- - Appointed an advisory council to investigate and make recommendations.
- - Undertook a campaign to educate citizens.
- - Conducted low-cost vaccination clinics each spring.
- - Intensified enforcement of licensing and vaccination requirements.
- - Took violators to court.
- - Amended ordinances pertaining to humane handling, “public nuisance,” etc.
The improvement in community safety was immediate. By 1976, reports of dog bites had fallen to 4,760: a decrease of more than 30% from 1972. 
The numbers of reported dog bites have continued to decrease into the 21st century, with dog bites numbering less than 1,000 per year in Baltimore City over the past decade.
In 2011, there were 716 reported dog bites in Baltimore City.
Severe dog bites and dog bite-related fatalities in Maryland
Severe dog bite injuries are extremely uncommon throughout the nation and represent only a small percentage of the total number of reported dog bites. Dog bite-related fatalities are even more uncommon: they are exceedingly rare, both throughout the nation, and in Maryland.
- - In the last 6 years, there have been no dog bite-related fatalities in Maryland.
- - Over the past 47 years (from 1965 to the present), there have been 12 dog bite-related fatalities in Maryland: an average of 1 every 4 years.
- - Nine (9) different breed descriptors have been assigned to the dogs involved in these fatalities. 
Between 1965 and 2012, more than 16 different breed descriptors have been assigned to the dogs involved in Maryland cases of severe, non-fatal incidents. No single breed predominates. 
Shifting Popularity of Breeds/types of dogs in Maryland & the U.S.
Dramatic reduction in the reported number of dog bites, rare cases of severe injuries, and even rarer cases of dog bite-fatalities have been the experience in Maryland over the past 4 decades. This harmonious co-existence between Marylanders and dogs has occurred during a period in which the “pit bull” population has increased.
According to Vetstreet.com, a website published by the journals Compendium and Veterinary Technician, the American Pit Bull Terrier is the second most popular dog in Maryland. 
Banfield Pet Hospitals, the largest general veterinary practice in the world, reports that the percentage of “pit bulls” visiting their U.S. network of clinics has increased by 47 percent over the past 10 years.
Tracey v Solesky: Far-reaching Consequences
Marylanders immediately understood that the Court of Appeals ruling in Tracey v Solesky, based on its belief that “pit bull” “pit bull mix” or “cross-bred pit bull mix” dogs are “inherently dangerous,” would impact not only thousands of “pit bull” dog owners and their landlords, but also would spill over onto owners of other dogs and their landlords, onto animal shelters, pet-friendly retail stores, groomers, kennels, veterinarians, and all other animal service providers.
The Tracey v Solesky decision is not supported by the data, conclusions or recommendations from controlled dog bites studies.
Unsupported by controlled studies of dogs, dog bites
In April 2012, experts from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) published a report summarizing studies of serious dog-bite injuries covering 40 years, conducted in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Their report contradicts the Court’s declaration regarding “pit bull” dogs. According to the AVMA report, “controlled studies have not identified this breed group [i.e. pit bull] as disproportionately dangerous.”
The AVMA has consistently expressed strong opposition to regulating by breed. However, the report points out that, if a community insisted on targeting breeds of dogs, then a cluster of large breeds would have to be included, among which would be German shepherds and shepherd crosses, along with other breeds that would vary by location.
Visual Identification of breed(s): Unreliability and Genetics
Even before Tracey v Solesky, animal experts questioned how any dogs of unknown pedigree – whether described as “pit bulls,” “German Shepherd mixes,” “Labrador mixes,” or otherwise – could be reliably breed-labeled. The court decision does not recognize the results reported in two recent university studies, which indicate that observers frequently disagree with each other when guessing at the breed or breeds that make up a dog, and also, that their guesses do not agree with DNA analysis of the same dog. 
The court decision further failed to note the literature of canine genetics, which explains why this will always be the case. A surprisingly small amount of genetic material exerts a very large effect on a dog’s appearance. For example, a dog’s genome consists of 19,000 genes. According to Dr. Kristopher Irizarry, Assistant Professor of Genetics at Western University of Health Sciences, as few as six genes may determine the shape of a dog’s head, but none of those same six genes will influence behavior. A dog’s physical appearance does not predict how it will behave.
Frederick County Commissioners Speak Out Against the Decision
The Frederick County Board of Commissioners released a statement in response to the Tracey v Solesky decision. In it, they collectively “expressed great displeasure over a recent court case of Tracey v Solesky held by the Maryland Court of Appeals that targets pit bull and pit bull mixture dogs. We wholeheartedly support and are confident that our Animal Control Division has the proper policies in place to address aggressiveness in animals… Frederick County has not had the degree of incidents to merit this kind of extreme response.” 
In 2009, Frederick County, which had a population of over 233,000 people at that time, had only 210 reported dog bites. Following a serious dog bite incident in 2003, Frederick County enacted an ordinance in 2004 regulating all dangerous dogs regardless of breed. The ordinance allows the director of Frederick County Animal Control to determine whether a dog involved in a reported incident is dangerous or potentially dangerous. Dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs are then registered. As of May 2012, there are five dogs registered in Fredrick County – each with a different breed attribution.
Frederick County recognized that dog bites are not a result of any one factor, but are the product of a complex set of circumstances that do not lend themselves to a simplistic one-note description or policy.
Unequal Recourse for Victims
The decision does not provide equal legal recourse for anyone injured by a dog. A recent dog bite-related injury in Maryland involved a 3-year-old Rawlings boy, who was so severely injured that doctors placed him on a ventilator and in a medically-induced coma in order to treat his life-threatening injuries. Authorities did not report the dog to be a “pit bull,” “pit bull mix” or “cross-bred pit bull mix.”
In consequence of the new Court of Appeals ruling, this child’s family would labor under a different burden of proof than does someone injured by a dog labeled as a “pit bull:” not because of the circumstances of the incident, but because of the breed label ascribed to the dog.
Further, Tracey v Solesky offers plaintiffs and their attorneys an incentive to game the system, and to try and convince a court that the dog was a “pit bull,” “pit bull mix,” or “cross-bred pit bull mix” in order to tilt the scale in their favor and create a prima facie case.
Nothing in the available public record in Maryland – or anywhere else in Europe or North America – supports the designation of “pit bull” dogs as “inherently dangerous.” The Tracey v Solesky decision has failed to account for the data conclusions of controlled studies, the consistent recommendations of animal experts, or the Maryland record that bears them out.
Moreover, it is unfair to victims of bites from dogs not implicated by the ruling.
Tracey v Solesky has not addressed the concerns of Marylanders or their dogs, and will not meet their needs.
Intense focus on select and isolated incidents of serious dog bite injuries clouds the issues, rather than clarifying them. It foments fear and hysteria, and is not a sound basis for making public policy. It prevents a useful understanding of the complexity of dog bite-related incidents, and ignores the incredible good that results in our communities from positive canine-human bonds and responsible pet ownership.
We all want to be safe in our communities. We want laws that are fair, and based on the best evidence available. For as long as animal experts have considered the problem of dog bites in light of science, safety, and fairness, they have advocated for responsible, accountable dog ownership. All dog owners should be held to the same standards of humane care, custody, and control of their dogs, regardless of breed.
 Available at: http://nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/resources/MD/ (Accessed 18 June 2012)
 Comprehensive state-wide dog bite data is unavailable for Maryland. The neighboring District of Columbia made such data available for the year 2007. Of the 183 reported dog bites reported in DC, 10 were classified as severe (severe defined as “4 or more puncture wounds which may include crushing or tears from shaking”). Of the 10 severe bites, there were 9 different breed attributions.
 Seymour, Kristen. “Top Dogs Across America: 10 Most Popular Breeds by State.” VetStreet.com. http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/top-dogs-across-america-10-most-popular-breeds-by-state
 Banfield Pet Hospital State of Pet Health 2011 Report. Available at: http://www.banfield.com/Banfield/files/bd/bd826667-067d-41e4-994d-5ea0bd7db86d.pdf
 American Veterinary Medical Association, “Welfare Implications of The Role of Breed in Dog Bite Risk and Prevention,” (April 17, 2012). Available at http://www.avma.org/reference/backgrounders/dog_bite_risk_and_prevention_bgnd.asp (Accessed 18 June 2012)
 John Paul Scott & John Fuller. Genetics and the Social Behavior of Dogs. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1965; V. Voith, E. Ingram, K Mitsouras, et al, “Comparison of Adoption Agency Identification and DNA Breed Identification of Dogs” Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, July 2009; K. Olson, J. Levy et al. “Pit Bull Identification in Animal Shelters”: A poster that illustrates the project and its result can be found at http://www.maddiesfund.org/Resource_Library/Incorrect_Breed_Identification.html (Accessed 18 June 2012)
 Delmarva Media Group, “Maryland: 3-year-old badly mauled by dog”, April 27, 2010.