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New dog law in Cincinnati could take bite out of owners' wallets

CINCINNATI -- A new Cincinnati law meant to hold pet owners accountable for dog bites allows for fines of up to $15,000.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the law adopted Wednesday stops short of criminalizing dog bites. Councilman Kevin Flynn says the target is bad owners, not specific dogs or breeds.

The law allows police to cite owners civilly with fines of up to $5,000 the first time and up to $15,000 for repeat offenses. Owners also can be fined if dogs run unattended, aren't kept on leashes or attempt to bite someone.

Flynn says the law doesn't cover organized dog fighting, which can be criminally prosecuted in Ohio.

Mayor John Cranley had proposed more breed-specific legislation targeting dogs considered to be pit bulls, but he supported the compromise approved by council.

According to a report released last year by State Farm and the Insurance Information Institute, in 2013, dog bite liabilities in the U.S. cost insurers $483 million. State Farm reported that Ohio ranked third on the list of states for dog bite claims in 2013.

In a 2014 survey, Houston ranked worst in the nation for dog attacks on letter carriers, pushing Los Angeles, 2013's leader, to second place.

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