On Wednesday, August 8, 2012, the National Pet Industry Association’s Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) announced its support for a repeal of the Maryland Court of Appeals’ recent ruling in Tracey v Solesky, which imposes strict liability standards for persons who own, harbor or control “pit bull” dogs.[i] *
“Imposing strict liability for human attacks by dogs specifically based on breed is contrary to the goal of public safety,” asserts Mike Canning, President of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.
In its press release, PIJAC urges the Legislative Task Force to consider only breed-neutral legislation during the Special Legislative Session and public hearings scheduled for August 9th and 10th in Annapolis, Maryland. PIJAC states that “any law imposing restrictions on specific breeds of dogs ignores the reality that a dog may be vicious regardless of breed, and effective protection of public safety demands a focus on the individual animals that represent a true propensity to be a public threat.” PIJAC has helped to establish dangerous dog statutes in various states, focusing “in all cases” on the “the behavior rather than status” of all dogs.
“As any behavioral expert recognizes, the breed of a dog does not dictate its disposition,” underscores Canning. “Rather, training and care of the animal is what will determine its tendency towards aggressiveness.”
PIJAC’s announcement of its position on breed specific legislation comes just days after the American Bar Association (ABA)’s passage of Resolution 100, which urges repeal of all “breed discriminatory or breed specific provisions” at all levels of government.[ii]
The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council is a non-profit trade association that advocates for the pet industry and those benefiting from or impacted by it (owners, animals, and the environment). Its mission is to “promote responsible pet ownership and animal welfare, foster environmental stewardship, and ensure the availability of pets. For over 40 years, the organization has provided its members with a voice in state and national legislative issues through advocacy and timely information regarding upcoming policy issues that affect the pet industry, pet owners, and the animals they care for. For more information, visit http://www.pijac.org/.
*Even though the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that landlords are strictly liable for harm done to humans by some dogs owned by their tenants, the ruling has not been mandated. Without a mandate, the ruling is not in effect. For further information, read ‘Marylanders Take Notice: At present Court of Appeals’ “strict liability” for landlords ruling lacks force of law.’
[i] See the following for reference: ‘Marylanders Take Notice: At present Court of Appeals’ “strict liability” for landlords ruling lacks force of law,’ ‘Maryland’s Experience: the public record & the Tracey v Solesky ruling,’ and ‘Court Discriminates Against Victims While Ignoring Science and Maryland Experience.’
[ii] For further information regarding Resolution 100 and a link to the ABA’s complete resolution and report, see ‘American Bar Association urges repeal of all breed-specific laws’.