The Georgia Senate voted nearly unanimously on Monday to pass legislation that would allow dog owners to be charged with a felony when their pets commit a second attack on a human. According to the Savannah Morning News, the bill was introduced by the House in response to recent reports of children in Atlanta and Savannah being bitten by dogs that had committed prior attacks on people.
Existing legislation allows a court to declare a dog as “vicious” following a first attack on a human, but House Bill 685 will toughen the law, increasing penalties for attacks on humans committed by dogs that had already been classified as vicious. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that under the new bill, the owner of a dog who attacks a human on two occasions may face a minimum of one year in prison and at least a $5,000 fine.
The bill also stipulates protocol for owning vicious dogs, including keeping the dogs muzzled and requiring a secure, enclosed habitat. Owners of dogs that have been declared vicious must also carry $50,000 in insurance, and keep a microchip inserted in their pet.
The bill passed in the Senate by a landslide of 50-1 votes, after it was amended to exempt animals designated as “working dogs.” Working dogs is a category that includes guide dogs for the vision-impaired, companion dogs for the disabled, and dogs used for herding sheep. The amended version of the bill must now return to the House for approval before it lands on the governor’s desk in order to be signed into law.
Dog Bite Statistics in the United States
As much as we love and cherish our dogs, some of them pose a threat to the safety of strangers, and even our loved ones. Below are some surprising statistics about dog bites in the United States, from the American Humane Society:
- An estimated 4.7 million dog bites occur every year in the US
- 50% of dog attacks involve children under 12 years old
- Approximately 800,000 of those dog bites require medical care
- 82% of dog bites that required emergency room visits involved children under 15 years old
- More than one dozen fatalities related to dog bites occur in the US every year
- 70% of dog bite fatalities occurred among children under 10 years old
- About 58% of human deaths by dog bite involved unrestrained dogs on their owners’ property
- More than $1 billion is paid every year by the insurance industry in dog bite-related claims
The American Academy of Family Physicians lists some of the breeds that are most and least likely to attack (in alphabetical order):
Aggressive dogs (higher attack rate)
- Bull Terrier
- Cocker Spaniel
- Chow Chow
- Doberman Pinscher
- German Shepard
- Great Dane
- Pit Bull
- Siberian Husky
Less Aggressive Dogs:
- English Setter
- English Springer
- Golden Retriever
- Irish Setter
- Labrador Retriever
Injured by a Dog?
If you or a loved one has been injured from a dog attack, you may be eligible for compensation for your injuries. Contact our experienced attorneys today and receive a free consultation to determine whether pursuing legal action is an option that makes sense for you.