Exterminate the Brutes: Your Pit Bull Is Too Violent to Live- Even if it Isn’t
Woof, woof—watch out, that dog has a vicious and aggressive nature. The American Staffordshire Terrier, also called the pit bull, once known as “America’s breed,” has now been ruled a threat.
On April 26, Maryland’s highest court decided in Tracey v. Solesky that this dog, and any mix containing pit bull genes, is “inherently dangerous” as a matter of law. The breed alone is evidence that an individual animal is violent, subjecting owners to what the courts call “strict liability.” The Court of Appeals declared, “When an attack involves pit bulls, it is no longer necessary to prove that the particular pit bull or pit bulls are dangerous.”
How can you tell when a dog is a pit bull mix? One way would be to do genetic testing. But that would require first that we have a genetic definition of the pit bull, which we don’t, and probably won’t any time soon. Testing any dog accused of being a pit bull mix would also be costly and almost certainly won’t happen. In his dissent, Judge Clayton Greene recognized the absurdity of the majority opinion’s “unworkable rule.” “How much ‘pit bull’ must there be in a dog to bring it within the strict liability edict?” he asked. “How will that be determined? What rationale exists for any particular percentage of the genetic code to trigger strict liability?”
In the absence of a viable genetic test, so-called experts will instead tell courts that an individual dog either is or is not a pit bull mix, based on nothing more than the shape of its head, or its stance, or its way of looking at you.
Those experts often come from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) or the Humane Society of the United States, organizations well known for their focused and fierce opposition to pit bulls. Recent cases in which they have been involved led directly to the destruction, for no cause except alleged genetic propensity to violence, of an entire line of pit bulls in Louisiana. With the help of the ASPCA and the Humane Society, a Virginia man was nearly imprisoned for making and distributing educational films about the breed.