Support Georgia HB 717 - Criminal Penalties for Owners Who Fail to Secure Aggressive Dogs That Then Bite People

Georgia has laws in place regarding dangerous dogs, but this House Bill 717 would be an amendment to Article 2 of Chapter 8 of Title 4 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated. The bill proposes that, starting July 1, 2012, the punishment of certain dog owners who fail to secure a dog that then inflicts severe injury or death of a human being should worsen. If the owner is convicted, the new criminal penalties he or she could face is up to three years in prison and/or a fine of $20,000.

HB 717, Section 1 - “If any owner negligently or intentionally fails to secure a dangerous dog or potentially dangerous dog and such failure results in the dog attacking another human being causing severe injury or death such owner shall be guilty of the offense of failure to secure a dangerous dog and upon conviction therefore shall be guilty of a felony and punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than three years or a fine of not more than $20,000.00, or both."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows data on dog bites to be high enough that this proposed bill would be an influential piece of legislation. There are more than 4.7 million dog bites each year. And currently, more than 800,000 people seek medical attention each year. The CDC reports that half of this statistic is children.

Dog Kalka & Baer has represented clients who have been bitten and injured by dogs that are left unleashed and attack pedestrians and clients who have been riding bicycles and unleashed dogs attack them or the bike. Our attorneys are experts regarding leash laws and dog bite laws, which is why we wrote this blog post. We hope readers can learn prevention of dog bites and attacks. And, always know, that Kalka & Baer is here representing victims of dog-related accidents and injuries.

The good news- you can do something to prevent dog bites. The third full week of May is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, a week used to raise awareness about dog bites and educate dog bite prevention tips and techniques. Here in Georgia, the CDC’s Injury Center had a campaign to reach out to the counties of Chatham, Bullock and Effingham to try and reduce the risk of dog bite injuries.

It is recommended that before you bring a dog into your household you consult with your vet or breeder to learn what breed of dog would be a good fit for your household. There is not a tried and true way to completely link a breed of dog with aggressive behavior; some of the commonly thought aggressive breeds are pit bulls, rottweilers, german shepherd and chow chow dogs. Therefore, there can be no breed-specific policies passed. Dogs with histories of aggression are not recommended for any household with children.

If you have children, especially ones aged 9 or younger, teach them these safety tips in case a dog turns aggressive and attacks them, as posted by the CDC.

  • Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult
  • Do not approach an unfamiliar dog
  • Avoid direct eye contact with a dog
  • Do not disturb a dog that is eating, sleeping or caring for puppies
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still

Categories: General