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Dog Bite Bill Aims For Liability Compromise

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Thousands of pet owners anxiously await the outcome of bills that would nullify a controversial court ruling that pit bulls are inherently dangerous.

Pat Warren explains what may seem simple, is a very complicated road to passing a new law.

A court case over landlord liability for the near fatal mauling of young Dominic Solesky labeled pit bulls inherently dangerous and put landlords on notice that they can be held liable for pits living on their property.

Renters have been forced to choose.

“Every day, I wake up and I wonder if this is going to be the last day, if someone might say you can no longer keep your dog. He’s my best friend,” said Danielle Windsor, dog owner.

The General Assembly twice has failed to release the breed from its judicial sentence by coming up with a law that treats all dogs equally. Now, down that legislative rabbit hole they go for round three.

“And this bill that we’re hearing today is a compromise between the Senate and the House of Delegates. So we’re really hopeful that together they can get it done and get it fixed,” said Jen Swanson, Baltimore Humane Society.

Lawmakers agree that whatever dog bite bill they pass will apply to all breeds, but the bone of contention is whether to put owners on a tight leash of strict liability or a run of defense that there was no prior knowledge the dog might bite, letting the owner off the hook.

“This bill ratifies the idea that the history of the dog is relevant. And I’m asking you, what do we tell this little child’s mother who sees her son get attacked and now we tell them that she has to pay for it,” said Sen. Bobby Zirkin, (D) Baltimore County.

It’s the same sticking point that went unresolved last year.

“This is not only a pet issue, this is a people issue. There are hundreds of thousands of families out there in Maryland who are losing family members and we really do not think that is fair,”said Katy Flory, Maryland SPCA.

The Senate most likely will pass this bill and send it to the House, where it’s sure to be debated.

Dominic Solesky’s father was those testifying against the bill.

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