Senate Update: Dog bite bill and vulnerable victims legislation passes full Senate

01/21/2016 04:03 PM

FRANKFORT – Legislation which would alleviate legal liability for a property owner whose tenants dog bites an individual, and a bill which allows vulnerable victims of abuse to testify about continuing patterns of abuse instead of having to remember specific dates cleared the full Senate on Thursday.

Senate Bill 68, sponsored by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, known as “the dog bite bill,” would modify the definition of individuals who would qualify as the “owner” of a dog.

The bill, which passed by a vote of 31 to 6, is in response to a 2012 Kentucky Supreme Court decision which found that a landlord could be considered a dog owner of his renters dog for the purposes of legal liability.

Alvarado says that current state statute puts unfair pressure on property owners, who may or may not know that an animal is on their property.

Others have argued that renters carry insurance just for that risk, and renters may not have the same protections.

The legislation now heads to the state House.

Vulnerable Victims

Senate Bill 60, sponsored by Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, which creates a mechanism for charging a person with an offense against a vulnerable child passed by a vote of 37 to 0.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsvile, said the bill is about protecting Kentucky’s most vulnerable victims.

The bill allows victims to give more generalized testimony rather than specific times or dates when testifying about offenses against them, since many children or vulnerable adults might have a difficult time pinpointing a certain day or hour.

“The jury must simply believe and agree that two or more instances of this conduct happened within a specified range of time,” Westerfield said. “They don’t have to agree on this date or that date, they just have to agree that two or more took place in a range of time.”

Mirror legislation sponsored by Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, cleared the state House last week. Those bills now crisscross the Capitol.


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