Dog Bite in Shady Side Sends One to Hospital, Injures Two Others

A dog on a cable lead in the front yard of a residence in Shady Side broke free and injured three people on Sunday night in Shady Side, Anne Arundel County Police spokesman Justin Mulcahy said in a media release. 300px-MD_-_Anne_Arundel_County_Police

The incident happened around 8:30 p.m. in the 49oo block of Filbert Drive in Shady Side.

Mulcahy said that officers arrived at the scene where they learned that a 29-year-old woman attempted to pet a two-year-old pit bull/Labrador mix on a cable lead in the front yard of a home. The dog bit her and a 15-year-old girl, who was attempting to stop the attack.

The dog then slid out of its collar and bit the 15-year-old’s arm. Another woman, 56, attempted to intervene and was injured before the dog ran off. The 29-year-old was taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center for treatment of non-life threatening injuries to her arm and leg.  The other two victims were treated at the scene, Mulcahy said.

The owners were able to contain the dog until Animal Control officers arrived on the scene and took possession of the dog, according to police. The investigation is ongoing at this time.

Pit Bulls and Pit Bull Cross Breed Liability

You may recall the uproar in animal welfare circles about an April 2012 court ruling regarding dog bites involving pit bulls and pit bull mixed-breed dogs. This is not legal advice, but rather an overview of the court ruling and subsequent General Assembly action. Please note that “Pit Bull” is not a specific breed of dog, but generally refers to two breeds: American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier. I’m using the term here because it is commonly used to discuss this issue.

Generally, the state of Maryland is a one-bite state, giving dog owners a pass on liability for a dog’s first bite. However, an April 2012 Maryland Court of Appeals  decision in the case Tracey v. Solesky, said that owners of pit bulls and cross-bred pit bulls would be spared no such release of liability because of the nature of the breed of dog.

In the Tracey v. Solesky case ruling, the state’s highest court said that pit bulls, as a breed, are “inherently dangerous, making their owners liable for injuries inflicted by these dogs.” A revision of the law left open the question of liability for mixed breed pit bulls.

In the special legislative session in 2012 and then the regular session of the 2013 General Assembly attempted to make corrections to the statute, but only the bill involving homeowner and renter insurance passed and was signed into law by the governor. That law said that  insurance companies may not deny homeowner or renter coverage policies based on the homeowner or renter having a specific breed of dog. That law does not take effect until January of 2014.

So, the question of liability for owners of a mixed-breed Pit Bull dog that bites—regardless of whether the victim was negligent—appears to remain an open question in the state of Maryland.

Animal welfare advocates say that pit bull dogs are no more likely than other breeds to bite. For more information and a history of the breed(s), visit the ASPCA web page,”The Truth About Pit Bulls.”

Avoiding a Dog Bite

According to the website Humane Society of the United States:

How do you avoid getting bit by a dog? Start by being polite and respecting the dog’s personal space. Never approaching an unfamiliar dog, especially one who’s tied or confined behind a fence or in a car. Don’t pet a dog—even your own—without letting him see and sniff you first.

Don’t disturb a dog while she’s sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy, or caring for puppies. Be cautious around strange dogs. Always assume that a dog who doesn’t know you may see you as an intruder or a threat.

Pay attention to the dog’s body language

Put a safe amount of space between yourself and a dog if you see the following signals (illustrated in the video above), that the dog is uncomfortable and might feel the need to bite:

  • tensed body
  • stiff tail
  • pulled back head and/or ears
  • furrowed brow
  • eyes rolled so the whites are visible
  • yawning
  • flicking tongue
  • intense stare
  • backing away

When putting space between yourself and a dog who might bite, never turn your back on him dog and run away. A dog’s natural instinct will be to chase and catch you.

If you are approached by a dog who may attack you, follow these steps:Resist the impulse to scream and run away.

 

  • Remain motionless, hands at your sides, and avoid eye contact with the dog.
  • Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until he is out of sight.
  • If the dog does attack, “feed” him your jacket, purse, bicycle, or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog.
  • If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless. Try not to scream or roll around.

 

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About Mitchelle Stephenson

I've gotta tell Mitchelle! Send your South County news tips, brag on your fab volunteers, talk traffic, police and fire or just say "howdy" to Mitchelle Stephenson, co-founding editor of the South River Source. Mitchelle@SouthRiverSource.com or reach me in person on mobile: 410-353-4706.

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