Urgent action - Plea to the Governor of Maryland

March 24, 2014

We need your immediate attention and participation.

      The Maryland legislature has passed a bill in both houses that will fully abrogate the 2012 Tracey v. Solesky ruling, which declared pit bulls "inherently dangerous" and attached strict liability when a pit bull attacks a person. This liability extends to landlords when a tenant's pit bull attacks, as were the actual circumstances in Solesky.
      The two bills, SB 247 and HB 73, are "emergency" legislation, which means that as soon as both chambers approve the exact same language, the legislation will go to the governor's desk IMMEDIATELY for his signature. The Maryland legislative session only has two weeks left, so the pace is already in hyper overdrive as we write this plea to you. This legislation could literally reach the governor's desk within hours.

Please write to the Governor of Maryland

      We ask that you write to Governor Martin O'Malley today and tell him this legislation will not provide uniform or adequate justice for dog bite victims. The legislation only provides strict liability for victims attacked by "dogs at large," about 30% of all dog attacks. The rest of the victims, 70%, still essentially must overcome the One Free Bite rule, though under the guise of "rebuttable presumption."
      This Washington Post article contains some factual errors, but it gives an outline of this rapidly unfolding situation. The best backdrop is the following February article, which explains the strict liability bill we are striving for, “We make this thing understandable so that a blameless victim gets compensated.’” Zirkin said.

We have provided several sample letters below

There have been four legislative attempts now to undo the Solesky decision. The legislators continue to inch closer to drafting legislation that truly advances the rights of all dog bite victims in Maryland -- a strict liability statute that pertains to all dog breeds. Each new legislative session gets closer. The governor must wait and only sign legislation that is truly meaningful and uniform to Maryland dog bite victims.

How to write to the Governor of Maryland

Choose: Correspondence Topic > Legislative Issues
Choose: Subject > Protect dog attack victims, do not sign emergency legislation
Click here to write to the Governor of Maryland

Sample letter one

Dear Honorable Governor Martin O'Malley,

Please do not sign emergency legislation SB 247 and HB 73.

      Maryland legislators continue to move closer to drafting the right bill, a strict liability bill pertaining to all dog breeds, which is what the Court signaled in its landmark 2012 Solesky decision. Maryland must join the 30 other U.S. states with a strict liability statute that holds all dog owners responsible when their dog inflicts injury upon a person in an unprovoked attack.
      The 2014 legislation does not accomplish this, nor will it uniformly or adequately protect innocent dog attack victims. The strict liability portion only covers persons attacked by dogs at large, less than 30% of all dog bite victims. At least 70% of all dog bites occur on the dog owner's property -- all studies point to this, and from all perspectives, there is no disagreement about this ratio.
      The new legislation will not protect any child that is visiting a dog owner's home, one of the most common scenarios for dog bites and severe maulings. Please wait to sign legislation that ensures that blameless victims can receive compensation, victims who were not trespassing or provoking a dog, but were merely invited into a dog owner's home and suffered a damaging attack.


Sample letter two (provided by a victim)

Dear Honorable Governor Martin O'Malley,

I am the victim of a violent pit bull attack and I urge you to refuse to sign SB 247. This bill does not protect the safety of your constituents and the issue is not an emergency. My 950 pound horse and I were attacked in a public park. The attack was life changing . I was eventually compensated for my injuries and losses even though the pit bull owner and handler claimed that the dog was just the sweetest thing ever because at the time my state required insurance on pit bulls. In reality the dog had been recently transported across state lines as a rescue and had no known history. The rescue scenario is very common in pit bull advocacy and the public must be protected against the recycling of violent dogs. One way to do this is strict liability without rebuttable presumption. Better for your constituents to take the time to write a proactive bill than to sign a poor bill claiming "emergency."


DogsBite.org and the Solesky family thank you for your supportive actions!


Thank you for your supportive actions!

Visit: Maryland Dog Bite Victim Advocacy