Sarasota lawmaker inspired by Padi wants to change dog bites laws

Sarasota lawmaker wants to change dog bites laws after hearing about Padi's plight

File photo: Padi with his owner, veterinarian Paul Gartenberg.

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – The case of a Manatee County dog will move to the state capitol. The plight of Padi, a black lab, caused an uproar across the country. Now a local lawmaker is fighting to change the law – so this doesn’t happen again.

The dog is owned by Bradenton veterinarian Dr. Paul Gartenberg. Back in June, Padi attacked a 4-year-old boy and was about to be euthanized. Many say the attack was provoked, but under the law, Padi had to be euthanized anyway. The lab was released by a judge last week, but State Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, wants to step in. “I do think that it’s an injustice in the current way that our law is situated,” Steube said.

padi
Photo: Facebook/Free PADI

He filed a bill he plans to call “Padi’s law” that would change the current dog bite laws. “Both sides of the story need to be able to be explained,” Steube said.

The representaive worked with county attorneys to draft this bill. It would allow hearing officers to use discretion in dog bite cases. “Obviously there are circumstances where a dog could be defending itself, it could be defending a home, it could be defending property, it could be provoked, and those are the type of things that I think are important for a hearing officer to be able to hear evidence on and then make a decision,” he explained.

Gartenberg thinks something must be done to prevent more fiascos like what he’s gone through. “They can’t go through this over and over again every time there’s an animal bite case,” he said. “Most times it’s because an animal is afraid. It’s rarely because they’re just bad dogs and chase down people for no apparent reason. It’s usually because they’re frightened and they react that way.”

The veterinarian hopes the case of his beloved dog can set a precedent. “If we can have an impact on the animal world then this was all for a good cause then,” he said.

The legislative session begins in January. Steube is hopeful that the measure can be passed into law next year.

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