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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland's Senate has advanced a measure that would hold dog owners liable for bites, but protect any owner who didn't know a dog was dangerous.

The Senate gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a compromise measure that addresses a ruling by the state's highest court. The two houses have been in a stalemate for two years.

The measure, which applies to all dogs, would hold owners liable when dogs bite people. But owners who can prove they didn't know their dogs were dangerous won't be held liable.

The bill is a response to a Court of Appeals ruling that made pit bull owners and landlords strictly liable for bites without previous evidence of a dog being dangerous. Pet owners and animal rights activists objected, saying it focused on a single breed.

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