The Responsible Dog Owner Act is a new piece of legislation intended to prevent injury and fatalities caused by viscous dog breeds. Every year there are 5 million people who suffer from dog bites. Of those bites, nearly 800,000 require medical attention and can cause permanent damage including loss of limb or scarring, and, in the worst cases, death.

Georgia is now paving the way towards legislation and community action that will protect residents from reckless dog owners. The Georgia legislature passed the Responsible Dog Owner Act this year, but is still awaiting the governor’s signature. The public safety bill provides additional protections to an antiquated dangerous dog law. The bill was amended several times before gaining approval.

New changes under the law include the following:

  • Definitions of dangerous and vicious dogs were refined
  • A judge can order euthanasia for a vicious dog
  • Owners must maintain a minimum of $50,000 in insurance
  • No person can own more than one vicious dog
  • Individuals convicted of a felony cannot own a viscous dog
  • Dangerous dogs cannot be off owner’s property unless it is under physical control of person who can prevent dog from engaging any human or animal

According to the new law, vicious dogs are those that seriously injure or kill a person. One measure of the bill was removed: the mandate that vicious dogs must be sterilized. However, animal control officers unanimously agreed that this measure should have remained in the bill, as intact male dogs are involved in nearly 80% of the reported dog bite incidents.

Source: Georgia Constitution, “Dog bill step in right direction,” Claudine Wilkins, April 27, 2012.