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Maryland House To Vote On Pit Bull Bill This Week

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The Maryland House of Delegates is scheduled to vote on a bill this week regarding pit bulls, and a court ruling from last year that termed the dogs an "inherently dangerous" breed.

That ruling meant pit bull owners, and landlords who rent to them, could be held liable in court if the dog ended up biting someone. Immediately, pit bull owners pushed Maryland lawmakers to pass a bill overturning that court ruling, saying it unfairly singled out the breed.

The House did pass a measure during the special session on gaming expansion last summer, but it was never voted on in the Senate. Republican Del. Mike Smiegiel of the Eastern Shore pushed that bill, and has signed on to the one the House will vote on this week, which differs from what he proposed last year.

"The bill coming out now places all animals with a 'rebuttable presumption' so all the dogs will have a rebuttable presumption that they are inherently dangerous unless you can prove that they are not," says Smiegiel. "I still prefer my bill."

Smiegiel's bill from last year would have placed the "inherently dangerous" label on dogs that were running loose at the time they bit someone, but Montgomery County Sen. Brian Frosh led the charge preventing his chamber from voting on it last summer.

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