Are Pitbulls Legal in Prince George`s County Maryland

The Prince George County Council voted 7-4 in favor of a measure that effectively maintains Maryland County`s ban on pit bulls. Last week, Richard Rosenthal, a New York-based attorney representing the family, filed a motion to intervene on behalf of other potential plaintiffs in the lawsuit who say they have had similar disputes with the county over their dogs. But the county claimed, according to their analysis, that the dogs are pit bulls — and therefore illegal under local law, according to court records. Prince George County, Maryland, prohibits the possession or possession of a Pit Bull Terrier with exceptions. If the person owned the dog before November 1, 1996, they can continue to keep the dog if they meet certain conditions, such as registering with the Animal Control Administrator and keeping an identification tag on the dog and keeping the dog on a leash or safely. Show dogs are temporarily allowed in the county. Dogs that have been trained for safety, search and rescue or for the police or firefighters are excluded. Violation of this regulation may result in a fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment for up to 6 months. If a pit bull injures or kills a person or pet without provocation, it will be destroyed. In the recent federal lawsuit against Prince George`s County bans, Rosenthal argues that the issues are legally complex — and bases much of his argument on what he calls a violation of due process.

The county`s guidelines lack specific guidance on how animal control officers determine whether a dog is actually a pit bull, he said. Pit bulls have been illegal in Prince George`s County since 1997, but enforcement of the ban is uneven. Animal rights activists are pushing to overturn the law, the latest step in a nationwide campaign to remove a ban that critics see as unfair, ill-informed and ineffective. The county law identifies three breeds of dogs that are considered illegal pit bulls: staffordshire terriers, american pit bull terriers, american staffordshire terriers, or “dogs that exhibit the characteristics of a pit bull more than any other breed of dog.” In an interview, she compared breeding bans to racial discrimination. At the rally, she showed photos of two nearly identical dogs, one of which had been determined by Prince George animal control officers to be a pit bull and the other, which they determined was a different breed. District law applies to dogs consisting of at least 50% pit bulls. Under the County Code, owners of animals placed in official custody under the Dangerous Dogs Ordinance must be informed of their right to a preliminary hearing within 48 hours. At the hearing, according to the district code, officials can determine whether owners are able to safely restrain their pet until the Animal Control Board decides how dangerous the animal is. The litigation has now been stayed as the county and Rosenthal`s clients seek to reach an agreement on the execution of Prince George`s pit bull order, according to court records. The parties are scheduled to meet again in early October for a settlement conference, according to an order from a federal judge overseeing the case. Council member Sydney Harrison told her colleagues that the current ban does not prevent dogs from entering the county. A county spokesman declined to comment, referring to the ongoing legal dispute.

County court records seeking the dismissal of the case claim that a dog owner`s property is subject to police power and can be regulated for reasons of public safety and welfare. The county also states in court records that “the order does not violate the same protection.” Denise Venero`s two emotional support dogs, Mimi and Bella, escaped from her garden in July and argued with a neighbor`s dog. Venero took responsibility, paid the resulting fines, and improved the fence around his garden. But the county still tried to grab their dogs, arguing that they were pit bulls that violated county law. The dogs of a woman from Beltsville, Maryland, were taken away by Prince George County authorities in July. To get her back, she had to negotiate a trial that her lawyer had compared to the Salem witch trials. Now she is suing to lift the 25-year ban on pit bulls in the county. The lawsuit also addresses some specific issues that Rosenthal says directly violate the county`s own policies as written. He said he decided to take over the case when he realized “how outrageous what the county was doing here was.” The lawsuit asks a federal judge to prevent the county from enforcing the pit bull ban in place since 1997 because it violates the U.S.

Constitution`s prohibition on illegal seizures of the Fourth Amendment and violations of the Fourteenth Amendment procedure. The lawsuit, filed in July, alleges that the county`s pit bull ordinance is unconstitutionally vague and overly broad, not based on scientific evidence, and promotes “gravely discriminatory enforcement.” The lawsuit also alleges that the ban violates the Fair Housing Act by forcing residents to abandon their dogs or move outside of Prince George`s County. The county also denied in court that the order was vague, overly broad or a violation of due process. Prince George`s ban resulted in the euthanasia of more than 2,400 dogs in the four years since its adoption. Today, the county spends about $570,000 a year on animal control officers, the boarding school for seized dogs and their euthanasia, Environment Department spokeswoman Linda Lowe said. The county seized 687 pit bulls last year, euthanized 402 and took the rest to shelters or rescue organizations, or took them home, Lowe said (two of the dogs died). So far this year, 492 pit bulls have been seized, 234 have been placed in homes or organizations, and 258 have been euthanized. Rosenthal, known nationally as “The Dog Lawyer,” was first contacted by Denise, Sophia and Stephany Venero in July after the county seized their dogs and refused to return them, according to court records. The complaint alleges that Prince George`s County does not offer preliminary hearings to people whose dogs are seized and that the county uses subjective measures such as appearance to decide whether a dog is a pit bull. For 16 days, they sat in a kennel, where they became ill; Then they had to spend another two weeks in another county.

A public hearing on the county`s animal control guidelines is scheduled for Nov. 19. Richard Rosenthal calls himself “The Dog Lawyer” and specializes in legal matters involving animals. Rosenthal now represents a Prince George County family seeking to overturn the decades-old ban on Prince George County pit bulls by claiming their constitutional due process rights were violated when their dogs were seized. Tuesday`s action maintains the ban, but does not end the debate over how district policy should be written. “The county takes a position that its law does not provide for exceptions,” Rosenthal said. The prosecution contends the opposite.