Pit Bull Ownership in the DMV

Legality of Owning a Pit Bull-Type Dog in the District of Columbia, Maryland, or Virginia – FAQs

– Are pit bull dogs “banned” by the District of Columbia, Maryland, or Virginia?

No (but keep reading if you live in Prince George’s County, Maryland.)

– Didn’t Maryland enact breed-specific legislation preventing landlords from renting to owners of pit bull dogs?

Maryland state law currently does not discriminate against any specific breed of dog. Pit bull owners are responsible for their animals the same as all dog owners in Maryland.

However, it is true that in 2012 Maryland’s highest court issued a notorious ruling in Tracey v. Solesky deeming pit bull-type dogs to be “inherently dangerous” and concluding that landlords could be held automatically liable for misconduct by their tenants’ pit bull-type dogs. Thanks to the hard work of pit bull advocates, the Maryland General Assembly in 2014 expressly overturned this misguided court decision. The Solesky ruling, which briefly altered the law and created real problems for owners of pit bull-type dogs—especially renters—has now been wiped from the books and is no longer the law of Maryland.

– What about my specific county?

It is always important to be sure about the law in your specific county, city, or town.

In the DC metro area, the only major jurisdiction with a breed-specific pit bull ban is Prince George’s County, Maryland. PG County has for many years had breed-specific legislation that prohibits people from owning or keeping Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, or any dog that “exhibits the physical characteristics of a Pit Bull.”

Resources for Tenants

Although Maryland state law no longer discriminates against pit bull-type dogs and their owners, some owners may still experience discrimination from landlords in the wake of the 2012 Tracey v. Solesky court ruling—even though the ruling was overturned in 2014. See Maryland Tenant Resources for links to legal help.

The information contained on this website is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject. 


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