According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dogs bite 4.7 million people in the U.S. each year. Of the 800,000 who seek medical attention for dog bites, half are children. A whopping 386,000 dog bites require treatment in an emergency department. Whether most of these encounters are the fault of the dog or the human is a source of much debate. However, many states have “dangerous dog” or “responsible dog owner” laws in place to make that determination. Georgia is among them.
On May 3, lawmakers in Georgia signed the Responsible Dog Owner Act into law. It defines a “dangerous” dog as any animal that causes a substantial puncture wound, aggressively attacks, poses an “imminent threat” of serious injury or kills another pet on someone else’s property. A “vicious” dog is any animal that has seriously injured or killed a human. Vicious dogs may be euthanized as determined by a judge in a court of law.
Owners of dangerous or vicious dogs must follow the dangerous dog law’s requirements in regards to penning and controlling their animals. Individuals with felony records may not own a vicious dog, and no one may keep more than one vicious dog on their property. If their pet injures someone a second time, dog owners face stiff penalties –including a year or more in prison and at least $5,000 in fines. Owners of vicious dogs are required to maintain at least $50,000 in liability insurance. The Georgia law excludes police and military dogs as well as herding and other working dogs.
How familiar are you with the dog-related laws in your state? Do you believe dog bites are a result of the breed or the fault of humans? Let us know in the comments.