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Georgia law on dangerous dogs

POSTED: October 31, 2007 5:07 a.m.

ARTICLE IV. DANGEROUS AND POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS ANIMALS

4.10.330. Animal control officer; duties generally.

The animal control officer shall make such investigations and inquiries as may be necessary to identify dangerous animals and dangerous animal owners within the jurisdiction of the governing authority.

(Res. of 9-28-00, § 2)

4.10.340. Classification of dangerous or potentially dangerous animals; notice to owner required.

When a dangerous animal or potentially dangerous animal is classified as such, or when a potentially dangerous animal is reclassified as a dangerous animal, the animal control officer shall notify the animal’s owner of such classification.

(Res. of 9-28-00, § 2)

4.10.350. Classification of dangerous or potentially dangerous animals; contents of notice to owner.

Notices to the owner shall meet the following requirements:

A. The notice shall be in writing and either mailed by certified mail to the owner’s last known address or hand-delivered to the owners. Such notice shall be complete either upon its mailing, or, if hand-delivered, upon personal receipt;

B. The notice shall include a summary of the animal control officer’s findings that formed the basis for the animal’s classification or reclassification as a dangerous or potentially dangerous animal;

C. The notice shall be dated and shall state that the owner, within 15 days after the date shown on the notice, has a right to request a hearing on the animal control officer’s determination that the animal is a dangerous or potentially dangerous animal;

D. The notice shall state that the hearing, if requested, shall be before the governing authority or its designee, and shall specify the name of the agency which shall conduct the hearing;

E. The notice shall state that either a filing fee in the amount of $250.00 or a sufficient pauper’s affidavit showing that the owner is unable without undue financial hardship to pay the filing fee shall be filed with the hearing request to the governing authority or its designee for said hearing;

F. The notice shall state that, if a hearing is not requested, the animal control officer’s determination that an animal is a dangerous or potentially dangerous animal will become effective for all purposes under this chapter on a date specified in the notice, which shall be after the last day on which the owner has a right to request a hearing; and

G. The notice shall include a form to request a hearing before the governing authority or its designee and shall provide specific instructions on mailing or delivering such request to the governing designee.

(Res. of 9-28-00, § 2; Res. of 10-14-04, § 1)

4.10.360. Liability of owner of dangerous or potentially dangerous animal.

The notice procedures provided for in this article are not an essential condition for the enforcement of the provisions of this chapter. The owner of a dangerous or potentially dangerous animal is held to know that such animal is dangerous or potentially dangerous if the animal has, at any time, displayed any one or more of the behaviors described in the definition of dangerous animal or potentially dangerous animal as provided in this chapter.

(Res. of 9-28-00, § 2)

4.10.370. Presiding body at hearings on dangerous or potentially dangerous animals.

Pursuant to O.C.G.A. §§ 4-8-22 and 4-8-24, the governing authority may conduct hearings provided for in this article, may designate an animal control board to conduct such hearings, or may designate the board of health to conduct such hearings.

(Res. of 9-28-00, § 2)

4.10.380. Procedure for hearings on dangerous or potentially dangerous animals.

When the governing authority or its designee receives a request for a hearing as provided in section 4.10.350 along with payment of the fee or a sufficient pauper’s affidavit showing that the owner is unable without undue financial hardship to pay the filing fee required for said hearing, it shall schedule such hearing within 30 days after receiving the request. The governing authority or its designee shall notify the animal owner in writing by certified mail of the date, time, and place of the hearing, and such notice shall be mailed to the animal owner at least ten days prior to the date of the hearing. At the hearing, the owner of the animal shall be given the opportunity to testify and present evidence, and in addition thereto the governing authority or its designee shall receive such other evidence and hear such other testimony as the governing authority or its designee may find reasonably necessary to make a determination either to sustain, modify, or overrule the animal control officer’s classification of the animal.

(Res. of 9-28-00, § 2; Res. of 2-28-02, § 7; Res. of 10-14-04, § 1)

4.10.390. Notice of determination regarding dangerous or potentially dangerous animal.

Within ten days after the date of the hearing, the governing authority or its designee shall notify the animal owner in writing by certified mail of its determination on the matter. If such determination is that the animal is a dangerous animal or a potentially dangerous animal, the notice shall specify the date upon which that determination is effective. If such determination is that the animal is not a dangerous animal or a potentially dangerous animal, then the governing authority or its designee for said hearing may, in its discretion, return any filing fee paid to the animal owner.

(Res. of 9-28-00, § 2; Res. of 10-14-04, § 1)

4.10.400. Certificate of registration required for dangerous or potentially dangerous animals.

It is unlawful for an owner to have or possess within the jurisdiction of the governing authority a dangerous animal or potentially dangerous animal without a certificate of registration issued annually in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

(Res. of 9-28-00, § 2)

4.10.410. Certificate of registration for dangerous or potentially dangerous animal; proof of proper enclosure and posting of premises.

Subject to the additional requirements of section 4.10.420, the animal control officer shall issue a certificate of registration to the owner of a dangerous or potentially dangerous animal if the owner presents to the animal control officer or the animal control officer otherwise finds sufficient evidence of:

A. A proper enclosure to confine the dangerous animal or potentially dangerous animal; and

B. The posting of the premises where the dangerous animal or potentially dangerous animal is located with a clearly visible sign warning that there is a dangerous animal on the property and containing a symbol designed to inform children of the presence of a dangerous animal.

(Res. of 9-28-00, § 2)

4.10.420. Certificate of registration for dangerous animal; proof of insurance or bond.

In addition to the requirements of section 4.10.410, the owner of a dangerous animal shall present to the animal control officer evidence of:

A. A policy of insurance in the amount of at least $100,000.00 per occurrence issued by an insurer authorized to transact business in this state insuring the owner of the dangerous animal against liability for any personal injuries inflicted by the dangerous animal; or

B. A surety bond in the amount of $100,000.00 or more issued by a surety company authorized to transact business in this state payable to any person or persons injured by the dangerous animal.

(Res. of 9-28-00, § 2)

4.10.430. Notice of escape, death, or change of ownership of dangerous or potentially dangerous animal.

The owner of a dangerous animal or potentially dangerous animal shall notify the animal control officer immediately if the animal has attacked a human, reptile or fowl or within 24 hours if the animal is on the loose, is unconfined, has died, or has been sold or donated. If the animal has been sold or donated, the owner shall also provide the animal control officer with the name, address, and telephone number of the new owner of the animal.

(Res. of 9-28-00, § 2)

4.10.440. Dangerous or potentially dangerous animals; annual registration fee.

An annual fee of $50.00 shall be charged by the animal control officer to defray the cost to register dangerous animals and potentially dangerous animals as required in this chapter. Said fee shall be due and payable at the time an application is made for a certificate of registration to be issued.

(Res. of 9-28-00, § 2; Res. of 2-28-02, § 8)

4.10.450. Dangerous animals; muzzling.

It is unlawful for an owner of a dangerous animal to permit the animal to be outside a proper enclosure unless the animal is muzzled and restrained by a substantial chain or leash and is under the physical restraint of a responsible person. The muzzle shall be made in a manner that will not cause injury to the animal or interfere with its vision or respiration but will prevent it from biting any person. The leash shall not be in excess of six feet in length and shall be of sufficient strength to prevent escape.

(Res. of 9-28-00, § 2)

4.10.460. Potentially dangerous animals; restraint.

It is unlawful for the owner of a potentially dangerous animal to permit the animal to be outside a proper enclosure unless the animal is restrained by a substantial chain or leash and is under the restraint of a responsible person. The leash shall not be in excess of six feet in length and shall be of sufficient strength to prevent escape.

(Res. of 9-28-00, § 2)

4.10.470. Dangerous or potentially dangerous animals; confiscation; return to owner or destruction.

A. A dangerous animal shall be immediately confiscated by the animal control officer or by a law enforcement officer or by another person authorized by the animal control officer if:

1. The owner of the animal, reptile or fowl does not secure and maintain the liability insurance or bond required by this chapter;

2. The animal, reptile or fowl is not validly registered as required by this chapter;

3. The animal, reptile or fowl is not maintained in a proper enclosure;

4. The premises where the animal, reptile or fowl is located are not posted as required by this chapter; or

5. The animal, reptile or fowl is outside a proper enclosure in violation of this chapter.

B. A potentially dangerous animal shall be confiscated in the same manner as a dangerous animal if the animal, reptile or fowl is:

1. Not validly registered as required by this chapter;

2. Not maintained in a proper enclosure; or

3. Outside a proper enclosure in violation of this chapter.

C. Any animal, reptile or fowl that has been confiscated under the provisions of this section shall be returned to its owner upon the owner’s compliance with the provisions of this chapter and upon the payment of reasonable confiscation costs. In the event the owner has not complied with the provisions of this chapter within ten business days of the date the animal, reptile or fowl was confiscated, said animal, reptile or fowl shall be destroyed in an expeditious and humane manner.

(Res. of 9-28-00, § 2)

4.10.480. Dangerous or potentially dangerous animals; exemptions.

A. An animal that inflicts an injury upon a person when the animal is being used by a law enforcement officer to carry out the law enforcement officer’s official duties shall not be a dangerous animal or potentially dangerous animal within the meaning of this chapter. An animal shall not be a dangerous animal or a potentially dangerous animal within the meaning of this chapter if the injury inflicted by the animal was sustained by a person who, at the time, was committing a willful trespass or other tort or was tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the animal or had in the past been observed or reported to have tormented, abused, or assaulted the animal or was committing or attempting to commit a crime.

B. No owner of a dangerous animal shall be held criminally liable under this chapter for injuries inflicted by said owner’s animal to any human being while on the owner’s property if said owner is in compliance with the provisions of this chapter at the time of the injuries being inflicted.



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