Dealing with a dog attack can be extremely traumatic. You might find yourself with a new fear of dogs, or you might struggle to figure out whether you may deserve compensation for any injuries you sustained in a dog attack. Take at the facts you need to know about Atlanta dog bites and your next steps following an attack.
Georgia Dog Bite Laws
Georgia has fairly lenient dog bite laws compared to other states–or at least, Georgia law seems to favor dog owners. According to O.C.G.A. 51-2-7, in order to bear liability for a dog attack, the dog owner:
Must know that they have a vicious animal. This does not mean that the owner of a specific dangerous breed automatically bears liability in an attack, but rather that the dog has a history of violence.
Must either carelessly manage the animal or allow it to wander freely. For example, poor fencing that the dog can get through, using an electric fence known to not work on the animal in question, or failing to properly restrain a dangerous animal while out in public could leave the dog owner liable.
Must have been in an area where the dog was required to be at heel or on a leash. In areas where dogs can legally roam free, the owner might not bear liability for an incident.
In addition, the dog owner may not bear liability if the victim of the attack clearly provoked the dog, causing the attack and the associated injuries.
The Rise of Dog Bites During the Pandemic
Alongside the other challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, many dog owners have suffered an additional challenge: a rise in dog bites and dog attacks. Several challengesmay have contributed to these increased bites.
Pets were exposed to children, teens, and other household members more often in the early days of the pandemic.
With social distancing measures in place, many families spent–and continue to spend–more time than ever at home. As a result, dogs are exposed to children and teens in the house more often, which may mean more potential opportunities for an attack to occur.
More people adopted dogs, including people who might not have known how to handle them.
Dog adoptions and purchases soared throughout the pandemic. Many people looked for companionship from dogs when they could not pursue it from people–and the vast majority of those animals remain in their new homes with those owners. However, some owners might not have had the skills necessary to manage the breeds they chose, or might not have realized how expensive it could prove to bring a new pet into the home. Dog attacks could have increased, in part, as a result of that lack of awareness and training.
Many people struggled to properly supervise their pets.
Throughout the pandemic, many adults have struggled with increased responsibilities. Many adults found themselves working from home, but putting in more hours. Dogs that normally could have been inside the home were considered a distraction, and so could have been put out in the yard. Parents, who had to juggle virtual schooling their children alongside managing their work responsibilities, may have exercised less caution in supervising pets around younger family members.
Dogs quickly pick up on heightened stress levels at home.
Stress and anxiety went through the roof in many American households during the pandemic. Animals cannot help but pick up on many of those challenges. Stressed dogs are more likely to attack than they would be under other circumstances, raising the risk of dog bite incidents.
When To Do Something About a Biting Dog
Dogs can choose to bite for a variety of reasons. Some animals are naturally aggressive–and some of them are deliberately trained to be. Despite careful evaluations in shelters and pet stores, staff members cannot always guarantee a dog’s temperament.
What should you do if your dog bites?
1. Consider increased training.
Work with a special trainer to help your dog learn how to manage aggression. In addition to teaching your dog how to handle threatening situations non-violently, you may learn strategies to help you keep your dog happier: getting more exercise, for example, or spending more time working, training, and playing together, all of which can be incredibly beneficial for the dog.
2. Make sure you secure (and supervise) your dog properly.
If you have a dog with known aggressive tendencies, it’s even more critical to make sure that your dog is properly secured on your property–even in areas the dog might have the right to run free. For some dogs, electric fencing isn’t enough. Other dogs may try to burrow under traditional fences. If you have a dog who is known to get out–especially one who causes problems–make sure you have a system in place that will keep your dog secured to avoid the risk of an attack against someone else.
3. Re-home the dog, if needed.
Some people do not like the idea of re-homing a dog after adoption. However, if you have small children in your home, an aggressive dog can be a serious problem. If your dog has bitten or acted aggressively toward a child in your home, consider carefully re-homing the dog. Look for a home that does not include small children or with an owner who has considerable experience managing and training aggressive dogs.
4. Put down a dog who is known to be violent and vicious.
If you have a violent, vicious animal who is known to attack on a regular basis, you may want to consider putting the dog down. When the dog poses a danger to your family and others around you, you do not want to keep it–and you do not want to pass that problem on to someone else. Keep in mind that if your dog continues to attack others, you can face substantial financial consequences.
Dealing with dog attacks can prove difficult. If you have been attacked by a dog, an attorney can help you learn more about your next steps. Contact us today to learn how we can help.