Baltimore County Rejects Pit Bull Ban, at Least for Now!

Update: The Baltimore County Council has rejected a pit bull ban!! Instead the council will consider a stronger dangerous dog law including an increase in fines for those who fail to license their dogs. For more, read the original report below and keep reading Animal Law Coalition for updates.

Original Report: Baltimore County, Maryland Councilman Vince Gardina has proposed an ordinance to regulate pit bulls. Under his proposal all "pit bulls" must be registered; the owners must pay a $100 license fee. On top of that, owners would be required to obtain liability insurance to cover bites or attacks. The proposed ordinance would require pit bulls to be kept in a wire-mesh enclosure with posted warning signs and subject to inspections. The dogs would be required to be muzzled in public.

Gardina claims pit bulls are "stronger" than other dogs. He claims they "have a greater bite". Huh?

The Baltimore County Health Department headed by Dr. Pierre Vigilance disagrees with the proposed breed restrictions. Dr. Vigilance has pointed to irresponsible owners as the problem, not the breed.

Also, a county Dangerous Animal Task Force suggested dog safety education and increased compliance with licensing requirements.

Let the Baltimore County Council know that breed bans don’t work. Feel free to use the talking points below.

Baltimore County Council

Court House, Second Floor
400 Washington Avenue
Room 205
Towson, Maryland 21204
Phone: 410-887-3196 Fax: 410-887-5791

Visit this link to find individual council members:

County Executive James T. Smith, Junior (Democrat)
400 Washington Avenue
Old Courthouse Mezzanine
Towson, Maryland 21204
410-887-2450; FAX: 410-887-4049

E-mail Address:

Fred J. Homan, County Administrative Officer
Baltimore County Administrative Office
400 Washington Avenue
Old Courthouse
Towson, Maryland 21204
410-887-2460; FAX: 410-887-5781

Talking points:

If dogs bite or attack, it’s not because of their breed; it’s usually because of owner irresponsibility: The dog may not have been socialized or trained properly. The dog may have been abused, chained, neglected or isolated. Or the dog may have been bred or trained to show aggression.

Pit bull bans also strain the resources of already underfunded animal control. The bans are expensive to enforce and are subject to legal challenges that can be costly for local governments. Also, many animal control personnel as well as most people have trouble identifying pit bulls and pit bull mixes.

If pit bull bans don’t work, what will help reduce dog bites and attacks?

Pass a dangerous dog law that recognizes any dog, regardless of breed, is potentially dangerous or dangerous if it has demonstrated aggressive behavior. The dangerous dog law should recognize there may be different levels of aggressive behavior; the point is to protect the public by encouraging owners to take action to control and manage their dogs through spay/neuter, training and pet owner responsibility classes before their behavior puts them in a higher level.

Pass strictly enforced leash or at large laws with a requirement for spay/neuter after the second violation.

Encourage spay/neuter and provide low cost spay/neuter in your community. More than 90% of fatal dog attacks are by dogs that are not spayed or neutered.

Pass laws that restrict the tethering, chaining and penning or caging of dogs. Dogs that are chained are 2.8 times more likely to be aggressive.

Encourage responsible dog ownership including socialization at an early age and training. Provide low cost training. Dogs should be part of the family. 81% of fatal dog attacks are by dogs that were isolated or not part of the family.

Strengthen dog fighting laws and ban breeding and training of dogs for aggression. Make animal neglect and cruelty laws more specific and easier to enforce with tougher penalties. Breeders should be registered or licensed. 61% of fatal dog attacks are by dogs that were not humanely controlled, or had in some way been abused or neglected.