Judge's ruling means freedom for Padi the dog

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Doctor Paul Gartenberg and his wife can finally breath easy. So can their dog Padi.

"It was great relief. I had to believe in my heart that this was going to end well," he said.

Until now, Padi's fate was unknown. In June, Padi bit a 4-year-old boy on the ear.

The boy's family said the dog attacked him, but Dr. Gartenberg said Padi was provoked.  He said the boy had cornered Padi in his office and threw toys at the dog.

Under Florida law, Padi should have been put down, based on the severity of the bite, but Dr. Gartenberg argued the law didn't give any leeway.

"I suppose there are some dangerous dogs that the public has to be protected from, but obviously Padi is not that dog," he said.

Judge Andrew Owens agreed.

In a 10-page ruling, he declared the dog bite law unconstitutional and Padi is 100-percent free.

Dr. Gartenberg is hopeful Padi's story will help other dogs and their owners if ever in the same situation.

Representative Greg Steube has already taken note. He has filed "Padi's Bill" and it could very soon change state law.

"There was a micro issue of us trying to get Padi back, but there was a macro issue of this could happen to anyone that had a dog," said Dr. Gartenberg.

Representative Steube's bill has cleared two sessions. By January it could become law.

In a statement, Representative Steube said:

"I am pleased to learn of Judge Owens' decision that rules Florida Statute 767.13(2) unconstitutional. This ruling confirms the necessity of my legislation, HB 81, also known as  Padi's Bill, to ensure that all dog owners receive a fair hearing to prevent unwarranted euthanasia."

Manatee County officials are also looking into the ruling and will determine what, if any, changes should be made.

"Maybe it will make it easier for them and stop somebody else from going through this same situation," added Dr. Gartenberg.