Stay in touch with MCHS!

To receive email updates, please enter your email address below and click Join


(240) 252-2555 (voice)

(240) 547-4308 (fax)

601 So. Stonestreet Ave.

Rockville, MD 20850

Business Hours


Seven days a week

Protect Maryland Dogs Helpline


Information for



and Dog Owners

The highest court in Maryland has declared that all "purebred pit bulls" are "inherently dangerous."  Owners of these dogs and their landlords can be held financially liable for any damage the dog causes as a result of a bite or other incident, regardless of whether the dog has ever bitten before.

Unfortunately, the Maryland state legislature failed to pass a law during the summer special session to correct this misguided ruling. The next opportunity to address it legislatively will be January, 2013.

Some landlords may react to this decision by trying to eliminate pit bull type dogs -- or possibly all dogs -- from their properties, the overwhelming majority of whom have never harmed anyone.

Maryland dog owning tenants, please don't panic! You do have rights! There are many proactive steps many of you can take today to protect your furred family members.

This information is not intended as legal advice. Information on obtaining legal advice is listed here.

Establish what kind of dog you have

What's in a name? Everything! The Court has limited its ruling to "purebred pit bull" dogs, and specifically stated "mixed breed or cross-bred pit bulls" are not included.

We urge owners of any short haired, stocky, medium size-dog in Maryland to obtain veterinary or other documentation of their dog's background. If your dog doesn't have a registered pedigree, or if it came from a shelter or rescue, it is possible that it is not a "purebred pit bull". Most reliable documentation will be veterinary records or dog license records. If your previous records list your dog simply as a "pit bull," you may wish to contact the source and correct those records so that it accurately reflects its unknown heritage. Maintain the documentation in a safe place.

You may find that your veterinarian or animal control (licensing) agency cannot identify your dog's heritage with 100% confidence. This is because it is very difficult to do so, even for the most experienced professionals. In this case, the dog should be listed as a "mixed breed" dog on his or her records, because it is the most accurate assessment. It may also be helpful for you to document that the expert (vet, animal control staff, etc.) could not accurately identify your dog's heritage.

Keep in mind, the term "pit bull" is not a specific dog breed. It's a descriptive term for a type of dog (like "retriever" or "hound" or "spaniel") and is very subjective. In other words, everyone's idea of a "pit bull" can be different. Many people say "pit bulls" are just mixed-breed dogs with a certain look to them, but are of unknown or untraceable parentage ... not at all pure-of-breed.

For more information on this call 301.693.2256.

If you are being threatened with eviction, please email Maryland dog Federation.

Know Your Rights

With few exceptions, your landlord cannot just show up and force your or your dog out. Landlords have to follow laws, give you notice, and go through a legal process to remove tenants or tenants' pets, regardless of the type of dog you have. In this case, the legal process could be as short as 14 days, but it could take weeks and months, so it is important to be prepared and informed. For information about your rights as a renter in Maryland, visit the Maryland Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division.

Read Your Lease Carefully

Contracts such as leases cannot be changed without both sides agreeing, unless there is already language in the document that allows the change.

Do Not Delay

If your landlord threatens you with eviction or a change to your lease, act quickly to preserve all of your rights and protections. This is when getting your dog's paperwork together is so important. And remember, finding a new rental property that allows dogs may become more difficult, so if you anticipate moving don't wait until the last minute to begin looking for a new place.

Obtain Legal Advice

For personal legal advice, contact an attorney licensed in Maryland. An attorney can advise you about alternate legal protections that might be available like the Fair Housing Act, which is part of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Be Prepared

Organizations across the state are hard at work trying to fix the situation but we sadly may not have a resolution in time to help every resident keep their dog. If the worst does happen, and you are facing the choice between giving up your dog and giving up your home, please see tips on how to find temporary or permanent placement options for your dog.


This page created 9-10-12


Google search



14645 Rothgeb Drive | Rockville, MD 20850 | Main Number: 240.773.5960

Programs & Services: 240.773.5054 | Emergency Services (24/7): 240.773.5900

Fax: 301.279.1998