In 2012, the Court of Appeals made the controversial ruling that outraged dog lovers across the state: owners of purebred pit bulls would be held strictly liable for all bites because pit bulls were deemed inherently dangerous. To top it off, landlords could be held liable as well. This court ruling caused many pit bulls to be put into shelters and many landlords to ban pit bulls from their property.
A new bill has been proposed to take another look at dog bites and liability. This bill would set a measure that applies to all dogs, no matter their breed, and would presume that all dog owners are liable for a dog bite, even if that dog has not bitten anyone before. In addition, the law would allow for owners to neutralize that presumption by showing that their dog had been docile before the bite occurred.
The previous breed-specific law caused uproar amongst dog lovers and made many disproportionately wary of pit bulls. This new proposed law holds all dog owners equally responsible for the actions of their dogs and is sure to gain favor in this respect, but some remain wary that the ability to neutralize the presumption would allow dog owners to escape responsibility entirely. We will have to wait to see what a dog owner will actually have to show in order to prove that their dog was 'docile' before a fight. For the sake of dog bite victims, I hope that the standard is high.