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Dog-bite bill clears hurdle, heads for final vote

ANNAPOLIS—The Maryland Senate Wednesday gave preliminary approval to a bill resolving a two-year debate on dog-bite liability.

The Senate voted 44-1 on House Bill 73. The bill is identical to a Senate bill that would hold dog owners liable for injuries and death caused by their dogs unless they can prove they had no way of knowing their dog was dangerous or vicious.

The bill also contains an amendment holding dog owners liable for injuries and death caused by dogs running at large unless the person injured was trespassing or somehow provoked the dog.

Sen. Delores G. Kelley, D-Baltimore County, voted against the bill. She had previously said she was the victim of a dog bite as a child and does not believe the proposed legislation goes far enough to protect victims.

The House bill moves to a final vote that could come as early as Thursday. The bill would be sent to Gov. Martin J. O’Malley for his signature once it receives final approval from the Senate.