Georgia Dog Law
Georgia does not have a Dog Bite Statute.
Common Law Liability
Under Georgia common law, a dog owner is liable for damages if the owner knew, or should have known, that the dog had the propensity to bite and cause injury. Under Georgia law, a dog’s aggressiveness or menacing behavior alone is not sufficient to place the owner on notice of the dog’s propensity to bite.
Dangerous Dog Statute
The Meaning of a “Dangerous Dog”
Under Georgia law, a “dangerous dog” is any dog that:
- causes a substantial puncture of a person's skin by teeth without causing serious injury;
- aggressively attacks in a manner that causes a person to reasonably believe that the dog posed an imminent threat of serious injury to such person or another person although no serious injury occurs;
- while off the owner's property, kills a pet animal; however this shall not apply where the death of such pet animal is caused by a dog that is working or training as a hunting dog, herding dog, or predator control dog
"Vicious dog" means a dog that inflicts serious injury on a person or causes serious injury to a person resulting from reasonable attempts to escape from the dog's attack.
"Serious injury" is defined as any physical injury that creates a substaintial risk of death; results in death, broken or dislocated bones, lacerations requiring multiple sutures, or disfiguring avulsions; requires plastic surgery or admission to a hospital; or results in protracted impairment of health, including transmission of an infection or contagious disease, or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.
The Meaning of a “Potentially Dangerous Dog”
Under Georgia law, a “potentially dangerous dog” is a dog that, without provocation, bites a human.
Legal Responsibilities of Dog Owners
- It shall be unlawful for an owner of a dangerous dog to permit the dog to be off the owner's property unless:
- the dog is restrained by a leash not to exceed six feet in length and is under the immediate physical control of a person capable of preventing the dog from engaging any other human or animal when necessary;
- the dog is contained in a closed and locked cage or crate; or
- the dog is working or training as a hunting dog, herding dog, or predator control dog
- Owners must register dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs with the state.
- Owners must post their property with a clearly-visible sign that warns people of the dog’s presence. The state has a uniform symbol that must be placed on the sign.
- Owners must maintain liability insurance of at least $15,000 for personal injuries inflicted by the dog or a surety bond of $15,000 or more payable to any person injured by the dog.
Liability of Dog Owners
Owners of dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs are strictly liability for injuries and damages caused by their dogs. In addition to civil liability, owners face criminal penalties of up to $5,000 in fines and one year in prison for the first offense, and up to $10,000 in fines and ten years in prison for second and subsequent offenses.
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