Judge in Padi case to weigh in on state's dog bite law

A Manatee County judge is expected to weigh in on if Florida's dog bite law is unconstitutional.

Doctor Paul Gartenberg, owner of Padi the dog, was prepared to go to court Wednesday to fight the law that says dogs have to be put down if they bite a person.

"I would have never of guessed in a million years what has transpired in the last five months with this dog. Our lives changed in an instant," said Gartenberg.

Padi has been under scrutiny since June. That's when the dog attacked a 4-year-old boy, biting part of his ear off at the Gartenberg's veterinary office.

The boy needed surgery and under state law, Padi should have been put down.

"Because two people can read the same law and read it differently, makes it unconstitutional. The law should be clear that there is no guess work," said attorney Charles Britt.

Gartenberg's attorney and even Manatee County's attorney said the law isn't right. Gartenberg said the dog was provoked and currently there is no exception to the law.

Britt said it can be compared to the Stand Your Ground law.

"I think they will see this statute has a little bit of a problem and I think the way that we are seeing it enforced in Manatee County, we will see that that is unconstitutional," he said.

The county's attorney asked the judge to give Padi back to Gartenberg without any restrictions.

"It seems like reasonable people making reasonable decisions," said Gartenberg.

While Padi is staying with the doctor awaiting his fate, Gartenberg hopes Padi's story will help others.

"I am just hoping that no one ever has to go through this again. Provocation should be used as a defense," he said.

The judge said a written decision will be back in a few weeks.