Articles Posted in Animal and Dog Bites

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Several organizations marked National Dog Bite Prevention Week in April to draw attention to the need for preventing dog bites, especially those involving children.

National Dog Bite Prevention Week was marked by organizations including the American Humane Society and American Veterinary Medical Association.  The primary focus of the week was drawing attention to the fact that while dogs are beloved companions, they are animals, and any animal can bite.

Dog bites are much more common than most of us may realize. Here are some very common facts about dog bites that you may not be aware of:

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Leash laws are designed to prevent attacks of the kind that took place on the campus of Carver High School yesterday. Students on lunch break at the high school, which is located in Fulton County, Georgia, were on the baseball field when the dog attack occurred. Witnesses told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that what appeared to be two pit bull terriers charged onto the field at around 1 pm, but Fulton County Animal Services later confirmed that the animals were Rottweilers. Both are considered by many to be dangerous breeds.

One male student received a severe dog bite to the face, and was saved only by the high school’s quick-thinking principal. The student was transported to Grady Memorial Health Hospital, where he awaits reconstructive surgery. His father says the 16-year-old was in so much pain that he had to be sedated and more than likely will need two or more surgeries to repair the damage that was done to his face. The owner of the animals has yet to come forward. There is no word of what prompted the attack and, as of today, the vicious dogs have eluded capture. It’s the second dog bite attack of a minor that has made Atlanta news this week and has people once again turning an eye to the Georgia law that governs these cases.

Georgia’s dog bite statute provides the following:

A person who owns or keeps a vicious or dangerous animal of any kind and who, by careless management or by allowing the animal to go at liberty, causes injury to another person who does not provoke the injury by his own act may be liable in damages to the person so injured. In proving vicious propensity, it shall be sufficient to show that the animal was required to be at heel or on a leash by an ordinance of a city, county, or consolidated government, and the said animal was at the time of the occurrence not at heel or on a leash. O.C.G.A. §51-2-7.

Aside from the general dog bite statute, each city may also have its own ordinance governing dog bites and leash laws – a fact which tends to add to the complexity of dog bite cases. If you are attacked a dog bite attorney will be best equipped to research the local laws that may be most pertinent to your particular case.
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In March of last year, 8-year-old Erin Ingram was playing in her own front yard when she was suddenly attacked and mauled by her neighbor’s two dogs. Details in an article by April Hunt of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reveal the attack was so brutal that medical doctors had to amputate the young girl’s left arm below the elbow. In court, almost a year after the incident, jurors listened to the eight minute 911 call in which Ingram could be heard screaming for help.

Typically, the right to recover for a dog bite in Georgia will be dependent upon either the dog’s history and/or the leash laws applicable in the county or city where the dog attack occurred. This dog attack took place in Dekalb County, an area with a strict vicious dog ordinance, and came just months after that very same county was considering lifting its pit bull ban. It’s the only county to have such a law, a 2005 proposal for a statewide ban against pit bulls was met with failure. Animal rights activists advocated a repeal of the ban, refusing to attribute the tendency to attack to any particular breed of dog, and choosing instead to criticize bad owners for their pets’ behavior. The dog bite incident in March seemed to underscore this point – one dog was a full-blooded pit bull, the other was a mutt. The owner was charged with reckless conduct, violation of county’s vicious dog ordinance and not having the dogs immunized for rabies – two counts each, and could face up to five years in jail if found liable and convicted.
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