Georgia’s Responsible Dog Ownership Act went into effect in 2012 when then-Governor Nathan Deal signed the law. This legislation functions to protect individuals from injury or death because of a dog attack. Under this law, a dog owner bears responsibility for the actions of their animal. In addition, the legislation explains the difference between a dog that is dangerous and a vicious one. This act clears up any confusion regarding who is liable in the event a dog attacks a person.
The Responsibility of the Owner
An owner is responsible if their dog attacks a human or another animal. According to this law, the owner or the custodian overseeing the dog may be civilly liable in the event of an attack. They become accountable for any injury, death, or damage caused by the canine. Furthermore, individual cities and counties may impose stricter laws regarding dog restraints and dog bites. Any person injured by a dog should consider going to Millar Law Firm for help in receiving compensation for these injuries.
No Owner Present
One problem people may encounter is the person watching the dog states the animal is not theirs. As a result, the court should not hold them liable. The Responsible Dog Ownership Act amended the definition of owner to address this type of situation. Whoever is in direct possession of the dog at the time of the attack bears responsibility for the dog’s actions. In addition, when the dog belongs to a minor and is vicious, the court holds the parents of the minor liable, as the child is not old enough to be sued in a court of law. This legislation goes further and states any individual harboring, possessing, or having custody of the dog at the time of the attack becomes accountable for the injuries caused by the animal.
The First Bite Rule
A dog owner also might assume the court will not hold them liable if this is the first time the dog has bitten someone. However, that isn’t the case. When the owner knows the dog has bitten previously or that the dog often threatens humans, they are liable for the injuries. However, when a dog only growls or barks at people, the past actions of the animal won’t come into play. The courts don’t consider this dangerous behavior.
Euthanasia is Permitted
When a dog is a major safety risk and has seriously harmed a human, the court may order euthanasia of this dog to prevent future attacks. If a dog hurts more than one person, the same holds true. The law allows for the euthanasia of the dog, but the owner can challenge this order in court. If they can show the dog was provoked, for example, they may stop the euthanasia of the animal. The same holds if the dog attacked someone who was engaging in a crime when they received the bite. The owner can challenge the euthanasia order.
Dog owners must know their responsibilities under the law when it comes to their animals. In addition, people must know their rights if a dog attacks them. If there is any confusion regarding either, it’s best to speak to an attorney. They can clarify any information found in the act and help each party know their rights and responsibilities in the event of a dog attack.