Maryland Dog Bite Legislation Debate Continues

By NICK TABOR | February 10, 2014

A new Senate bill would hold dog owners liable when their dogs bite “innocent victims,” but would also relieve owners who prove they couldn’t know their dogs were dangerous.

This marks the General Assembly’s third consecutive attempt to revise its dog bite policy. It aims for a compromise between the strict liability bills favored by the Senate and more lenient ones approved by the House.

However, Sen. Robert Zirkin, a Baltimore County Democrat who litigates dog-bite cases on behalf of plaintiffs, argued Thursday that the new bill leaves the burden solely on victims to prove the dogs were violent. He said it amounts to a “one free bite” policy.

Zirkin has introduced a counter-proposal, Senate Bill 286, that closely resembles the bill the House of Delegates rejected last year.

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