Maybe you learned last night on WBAL about the Pit Bull Compromise, with identical bills introduced in both the Senate and House yesterday that address dog-bite liability and apply to all breeds, thus overruling the controversial breed-specific decision. (Woo-hoo!) What exactly does this mean, and when might it take effect?
“The burden is shifted from the victim to know the propensity of the dog to bite or be dangerous,” explained State Senator Brian Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat who chairs the Judicial Proceedings Committee (The Baltimore Sun). “It’s fair to victims, it’s fair to landlords, it’s fair to pet owners.”
The earlier decision also held landlords accountable for injuries inflicted by a tenant’s pit. As a result, packs of pits were turned in to shelters citywide, causing animal advocates nationwide to mourn the situation and rail against the narrow rule.
Now a case against landlords will be much tougher to make (unless a landlord’s previous knowledge of dangerous doggie behavior can be proven), which is better for all innocent dogs everywhere, even the big-brown-eyed ones with sharper teeth and strapping musculature.
With the new decision, bite victims still have a deeply serious case, of course. The investigation will center on the dog’s propensity to bite or behave dangerously, thus making it perhaps easier to indict an animal owner of any breed. The “one-bite” doctrine, as it is called, by which an owner whose dog had never attacked anyone might be immediately exonerated, will be deleted.
Tami Santelli, Maryland director of the Humane Society, happily told Michael Dresser in The Sun that “the compromise addresses the organization’s concerns that the decision was forcing Marylanders to choose between their dogs and their homes.”
The “emergency bill” could pass as early as January 31, a hearing date at which a double-house supermajority would be needed to secure its success.
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