The town of North Beach, Maryland is considering repealing their pit bull ban and replacing it with a generic dangerous dog ordinance. The proposal is designed to compliment the county’s ordinance, and was brought about because officials realized the task of breed identification is difficult, if not impossible, thus making their current breed specific ordinance unenforceable. The proposal would deem dogs dangerous by their disposition, not their breed.
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N. Beach considers amending pit bull ban
by KATIE FITZPATRICK, Staff writer
The North Beach Town Council is considering prohibiting ownership of all dangerous animals rather than banning a specific breed of dog in the town.
An ordinance to amend Chapter 26 of the town code, which bans the ownership of pit bulls in the town, was introduced during the April 12 town council meeting. The amended ordinance would allow residents to own pit bulls and if any animal bites someone unprovoked they could be deemed dangerous and appropriate action will be taken.
Council member Ken Wilcox said he wrote the amendment to “piggyback on the county’s own ordinance,” referring to the county’s dangerous dog ordinance. He said the town is not “advocating any sort of euthanization, but we’re doing it to protect our own citizens.”
Wilcox said the need for the amendment stemmed from an incident last year where the county investigated a dog bite and deemed the dog dangerous. Wilcox said the dog was believed to be a pit bull, but because there was no proof, “enforcement was nearly impossible”
“We were stuck with an animal that was in a townhouse community with lots of children there, where we did believe it was one of the breeds that were banned to be in town but it turned out to be nearly impossible to enforce,” Wilcox said.
The purpose of the amendment, Wilcox said, is to “go along with the idea that … it’s [the animal’s] disposition, not their breed.”
Laurel Matthews with the Calvert Animal Welfare League said she reviewed the proposed amendment and is thankful that the pit bull ban, “known otherwise as breed specific legislation or breed discriminatory legislation,” was being considered for removal.
Matthews said she did have some concerns that the ordinance says that any dog that bites can still be removed from the town, “so we’re kind of going back to the removal of animals in the community instead of addressing the behavioral issues.” She said she hopes the town considers adding a requirement for behavioral assessment of the animal by a certified animal behaviorist to see what may have caused the animal to bite.
Matthews said she also had concerns about what the term “provoked” could mean, because “… provocation can be many things. Is it an innocent child that pulls a tail or an ear and the dog is not used to that behavior?”
Shay said if a dog is deemed dangerous, the owners can still go through an appeal process and have the judgment overturned.