When a dog bites somebody in Georgia, there are various things that could happen to the individuals involved. Victims need to seek medical care, and law enforcement or animal control officials could seize the dog. However, seizure does not always occur, though seizure of the dog will become more likely in the event a person sustains a severe injury or dies as a result of the dog attack. It is important to speak with a Coweta County personal injury attorney to understand your legal rights after an incident.
Will Police or Animal Control Seize the Dog?
Georgia’s Responsible Dog Owner Act states that dog owners can be held responsible if a dog under their control causes serious injury to another person or another animal. Serious injuries typically get defined as those that:
- Require hospital admission, plastic surgery, or multiple sutures
- Result in death or create a major risk of death
- Cause broken or dislocated bones
- Seriously impairs a person’s health
In the event a dog causes harm to another person or animal, law enforcement officials may be notified. If you are the victim of a dog bite incident, we encourage you to contact local animal control or your local Police Department and ask for advice on the next steps to take. Typically, an animal control or police officer will come to the location and determine the next steps to take. Dog bite victims should seek immediate medical care regardless of the outcome at the scene of the incident.
Animal control or law enforcement may confiscate the dog and place it in quarantine. This quarantine may include a test for rabies by a state laboratory. There will be an investigation to determine whether or not the dog should be classified as vicious.
Who Decides the Fate of a Seized Dog?
In many cases, a dog may get classified as vicious, but a judge in a Georgia Superior Court may make a decision to euthanize a dog that has caused serious injury or presents a danger if a local government authority files a civil action requesting that the dog be euthanized.
In the event a dog does get classified as vicious because it caused serious injury to a person or another animal, the dog may be allowed to return to the owner, but under certain circumstances. The dog owner must:
- Have the dog registered and obtain a “vicious dog” certificate
- Get the dog microchipped
- Never donate, transfer, or sell the dog unless to a facility for euthanasia
- Maintain a secure and sturdy enclosure on the owner’s property to contain the dog
- Post “vicious dog” warning signs at every property entrance
- Avoid taking the dog off of the property unless in a locked crate or muzzled and on a leash less than six feet long
- Never leave the dog unattended with someone under the age of 18
- Notify officials within 24 hours if the dog attacks a human, is euthanized, or otherwise dies
- Maintain a liability insurance policy on the dog with at least $50,000 of coverage for bodily injury and property damage
If dog owners fail to comply with Georgia law, they could face a misdemeanor charge, and the dog may be confiscated. If a person gets convicted of violating the vicious dog law after their dog causes another serious injury, the dog owner could face a felony charge punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Contact our law firm for a free consultation to discuss your Georgia dog bite claim.