Georgia Dog Bite Attorney Discusses Dog Breed Regulations Throughout the State of Georgia
The state of Georgia has various dog breed laws that are different based on the city and county that you live in. Because every city and county is unique, there are no uniform dog breed laws applicable all across the state of Georgia. As such, both dog owners and community members should have a good understanding of whether there are dog breed restrictions where they live. As dog bites and attacks continue to harm innocent victims throughout Georgia, local communities have been implementing restrictions on certain breeds known to be involved in many dog bites or attacks.
Most people will agree that dogs are companions, family members, and, traditionally, man’s best friend. However, there are dog owners in Georgia who own certain dog breeds for the specific purpose of exploiting those dogs to fighting or other illicit reasons. Such owners do not care about ensuring the dogs have a good home but instead are setting these dogs up to be euthanized for being dangerous. Because there are a few bad apples who have contributed to the increase in dog bites and attacks, local cities and counties have taken it upon themselves to implement rules and regulations they feel are necessary to keep the community safe. If you’re a victim of a recent dog bite, it’s vital to know which dog breeds are restricted or banned in Georgia.
What Are the Dog Breed Restrictions in Georgia?
While there are no statewide Georgia breed restriction laws, there are local ordinances which place additional regulations on owners of certain dog breeds.
Examples of localized dog breed restrictions include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:
- Clarkston – Rottweilers and Pit bulls are banned from off-leash city parks;
- College Park – Pit bulls, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, and German Shepherds are all considered potentially dangerous;
- Dawson – Pit bulls are considered potentially dangerous;
- Lafayette – Pit bulls, Rottweilers, and Chows are considered vicious;
- Lyons – Pit bulls are declared vicious;
- Marietta – Pitbulls and Rottweilers are prohibited from dog parks and off-leash areas;
- Trenton – Pit bulls, Rottweilers, and Chows are considered vicious; and
- West Point – Pit bulls, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Chows, Presa Canarios, and wolf hybrids are all considered potentially vicious.
Georgia Law on Dog Bites and Dog Attack Injuries
A dog attack can happen in the blink of an eye, and it can be challenging to process. While no specific dog breeds are banned in Georgia, there is legal guidance to determine who is at fault when a dog attacks.
At the state level, owners of dogs already classified as ‘vicious animals’ that bite, attack, or otherwise injure another person could be considered negligent. In Georgia, the term ‘vicious’ is applied to specific dogs (regardless of breed) that have a history of attacking or biting. Georgia courts may hold owners who carelessly manage their dogs liable for a victim’s damages. This could include not properly leashing a dog in compliance with local ordinances or laws or not complying with restrictions that are required of owners that have dogs classified as ‘vicious,’ which may vary from county to county. There is not a singular Georgia aggressive dog list that one can consult to determine negligence quickly. Instead, the facts and circumstances of each individual dog attack will determine if the owner acted negligently.
Current Georgia law states that if the dog “causes injury to another person who does not provoke the injury by his own act,” the owner could be held liable. However, some exceptions exist in which an owner may not be held not liable for a dog attack. For example, if the injured person “provoked” the dog to attack, the dog’s owner may not be held responsible. Notably, the law does not clearly define what ‘provoked’ means, so this is an instance where consulting a Georgia dog bite lawyer can be key in determining negligence.
Georgia Law on Dogs Known to be Dangerous or Vicious
Once a dog attacks or bites a person, the owner must adhere to a set of Georgia laws to prevent additional attacks. The owner is required to register their specific dog, regardless of the breed.If a dog bites a person and punctures the skin, attacks in such a way that a person fears serious injury, or kills a pet animal, that dog may be considered ‘dangerous’ under Georgia law. A dog becomes ‘vicious’ in the eyes of Georgia law § 4-8-42 when it causes serious injury. It is helpful to have a lawyer investigate the dog’s history of aggression to see if the dog has hurt someone in the past. This can be done through animal control or court records that may exist.
Owners of dangerous or vicious dogs (‘classified dogs’) must register those dogs with the state of Georgia and receive a certificate. This certificate functions almost like a driver’s license; it lets others know the individual met specific requirements to own a classified dog. According to this law, the owner must keep the dangerous dog inside, in a specified secure enclosure, or otherwise enclosed on the owner’s property. Also, the owner must post signs at all entrances alerting others to the presence of a classified dog.
There are additional requirements if the owner seeks a certificate for a vicious rather than a dangerous dog. In addition to the above conditions, the owner must get a microchip implanted in the dog to identify the dog readily. The owner must also show proof of at least $50,000 of liability insurance. In the event of any unprovoked dog attack, a dog bite lawyer may be able to recover monetary compensation on behalf of an injured party.
Owners of classified dogs have additional requirements to maintain this certificate. In addition to yearly inspections of the enclosure and signage, owners must notify the proper officials if the dog gets loose. They must also register the dog if they move into a new jurisdiction (county or city) within ten days of changing their residence. If a dangerous dog leaves the owner’s property, it must meet certain criteria, such as being in a crate or on a leash of less than six feet. If the owner of a classified dog fails to adhere to these requirements, this failure can constitute negligence on the owner’s part and exposes the owner to liability, both civil and criminal.
Atlanta and other cities throughout Georgia have strengthened the rules regarding the types of breeds that can be present in public places and the types of breeds that are considered to be inherently dangerous and potentially vicious. It may seem unfair to discriminate against certain dog breeds. However, there is a trend that suggests that certain dog breeds are more prone to attack humans and other pets than others. All dogs have the potential to be good, but can only be good with adequate training by responsible and loving owners.
What To Do If You Are Attacked By a Dog in Georgia?
First, you should seek necessary medical care and contact the relevant authorities or police as soon as the incident occurs. The police will document relevant details about the attack that can be used as evidence to determine if negligence exists.
You should keep a record of all relevant expenses incurred due to the attack. This documentation can include doctor’s visits, therapy costs, and reconstructive surgeries. It may also need to consider damage to property or your pets. Having clear and consistent documentation can make this a more straightforward process.
There are some instances in which the insurance company may deny the claim or attempt to pay less than the value of your costs. An experienced Georgia dog bite lawyer can help you fight to get you the recovery you deserve.
Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law
17 Executive Park Dr NE
Atlanta, GA 30329
Telephone: 1 (800) LAW-NEED
Telephone: 1 (404) 529-6333