By: Kristi Tousignant
The General Assembly’s pit bull task force met Thursday for the first time since this summer.
While no concrete decisions were made and only six of the 10 members of the task force attended, the group discussed how to determine whether a dog is at fault in the case of an attack.
As a recap: The task force is supposed to discuss legislation in response to an Court of Appeals decision earlier this year that ruled pit bulls are “inherently dangerous” and landlords and owners are liable in the case of an attack.
In a special session this summer, the General Assembly tried, but failed, to pass legislation dealing with the issue. Both the Senate and House of Delegates agreed that landlords should not be liable in attacks. While the Senate passed a bill making all dog owners liable in the case of a dog bite, the House of Delegates wanted narrower legislation that would limit liability only when a dog is running around “at large.”
In Thursday’s hour-and-a-half meeting, the group discussed the complexities of determining whether a dog bite is intentional and if a dog is at fault if he/she is provoked by a human.
“Is there any state in which it is allowed for a dog to be cross-examined?” Sen. Brian E. Frosh, D-Montgomery, questioned during the work session.
Del. Benjamin F. Kramer, D-Montgomery, said other states have had animal psychologists testify in court.
“We have to look at this from an animal’s perspective,” Kramer said. “From an animal’s perspective, this was provocation.”
Frosh, however, questioned Kramer.
“Do we really want to go down that road?” Frosh said.
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