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NYS Senator Sponsors Dog Bite Legislation

A New York state Senator from the Hudson Valley today introduced legislation that would hold dog owners financially liable the first time their dogs bite others.

Frankie Flora is nine years old. On this day in 2009, he was severely mauled by a relative’s dog.

He was playing with his cousin’s pit bull in the front yard when the attack occurred. He has undergone 28 surgeries after extensive damage to his head and face, and has more surgeries ahead. He and his mother, Maria Flora, live in the Town of Poughkeepsie, which is in the 41st Senate District, represented by Democrat Terry Gipson. Gipson, who is sponsoring Frankie Flora’s Law, says Maria Flora had approached him about the legislation.

Democratic Senators Neil Breslin and Ruben Diaz are co-sponsors of the bill, which amends the general obligations law in relation to the liability of owners for dog bites. Maria Flora has also been speaking with Senator Breslin for some time about such legislation, and Breslin introduced a similar measure last year to change the so-called “one-bite rule.”

The bill unveiled Tuesday provides strict liability for medical costs resulting from a dog bite or bites. And it does allow exemptions for police work dogs and service dogs. The measure also allows additional financial recovery where it can be proven that the dog had dangerous or vicious propensities and the owner had knowledge of such propensities.

Maria Flora says dog bite victims should be compensated when the dog inflicts injury the first time around. She also hopes the bill acts as a preventative measure.

Gipson points out that certain provisions already on the books will not change.

What would change, he says, is they would come into force when the first dog bite occurs, rather than upon the second bite from the same dog.

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