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Animal Advocates Laud Senate Approval Of Bill Making All Dog Owners Liable For Attacks

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Pat Warren joined the Eyewitness News team in 1992. Pat came to WJZ...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)– A change is in the making for all Maryland dog owners. The state Senate has given preliminary approval of a new dog bite law.

Political Reporter Pat Warren has more on what that could mean for pet owners.

The law is intended to eliminate what some considered an unfair branding of pit bulls as “inherently dangerous”.

Animal lovers protesting the Maryland appeals court ruling defining pit bulls as “inherently dangerous” are pleased to see progress.

“It’s definitely a win for pit bull owners,” Katie Flory of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) said.

The Maryland Senate has passed a bill that makes dog owners equally liable for dog bites regardless of the dog’s breed.

“We really do feel this is really the best way to go,” Flory said.

Mary Kate adopted Hogan before she knew he was part pit bull.

“He’s a sweet, lovable, young, healthy dog and I’m very proud to have him, regardless of his breed,” she said.

Maryland has allowed a dog one bite on the assumption that the owner had no way of knowing the dog was dangerous.

The court ruled in a case where a child was mauled by a pit bull, that the breed should be considered an exception to the one-bite rule.

The bill makes all owners of any dog responsible for any unprovoked bite.

“You’re the owner, you’re responsible,” Mary Kate said.

“It’s common sense. If you’re a dog owner, you should take responsibility for your dog,” David Otto said.

But some think is too broad an approach.

“Like the poodle, is a poodle going to attack someone versus a pit bull?” Lucy Evelyn said.

But the Maryland SPCA supports the change.

“It is very important that we look at the animal as an individual and not just the breed,” Flory said.

The bill now moves to the House of Delegates.

The pit bull bill is considered emergency legislation, which becomes law as soon as the governor signs it.

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