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Maryland legislators are in the process of dismantling a 2012 court ruling that increased liability for pit bull owners in the state, but their proposed solution could make all dog owners more liable if their dog bites someone else.
Both houses have passed measures that would make all dog owners liable for injuries caused by their dog, even if their pet had never bitten anyone before. The bills have a loophole, though — the presumption of legal liability can be dismissed if the owner can prove that the pet had no prior incidents.
Under a 2012 ruling, pit bulls were deemed "inherently dangerous," increasing the liability on not only their owners, but also landlords who rent to people who own them. Animal rights groups criticized the ruling, saying that it unfairly maligned pit bull owners.
Supporters say the new bills are a good way to balance the rights of pet owners, dog bite victims and landlords, but critics say that lawmakers are allowing animal lovers to dictate the terms of the new law.