Atlanta dog bite lawyers have found Georgia’s dog bite laws leave a lot to be desired. First, there is a lack of complete protection for victims of dog bites. Several states have strict liability statutes, which means that the dog owner can be held liable in a bite, even if it was the very first attack by the dog. In Georgia however, there is a “one bite free” policy. For the owner to be held liable, it falls on the victim to prove that the dog was vicious, and that the owner had knowledge of the dog’s aggressiveness. Fortunately, there are other ways to prove liability under the law.
One other such quirk in our dog bite laws is practically holding a Cobb County family to ransom. Elena Zlatopolsky’s son was gifted a Shepherd-chow mixed breed, Boris as a gift. The dog has already bitten four people in the neighborhood. Yet according to Cobb County laws, only a judge can decide whether or not to have the dog euthanized. That means that even with a record of four bites on his record, Boris continues to live with Elena Zlatopolsky.
Looking after the dog has proven to be more than the family can bear. Boris is required to be inside the house at all times, and must be muzzled. If the family ever takes him out, he must be on a leash. Elena’s son is due to appear in court in May after Boris once again bit a person even after being declared a dangerous dog.
Meanwhile, neighbors continue to be at risk of being bitten by a dog that already has four bites on its record. You don’t have to be an Atlanta dog bite attorney to know that there’s something very twisted about this situation.
According to the City of Atlanta Web site, dogs are only permitted in certain areas of certain parks and dog owner’s obey the following laws which apply to all areas of the city, or be cited:
Sec. 110-70. Pets
(a) No person shall walk any pet in any park except on a leash, unless the area of the park is explicitly designated as an off-leash dog area.
(b) It shall be the responsibility of any person bringing a pet into a public park to clean up any matter excreted by the pet.
(c) Leashed pets are not prohibited in public parks except in the following areas of any parks:
(2) Swimming pools and pool areas.
(3) Tennis courts.
(4) Golf course.
(5) Within 15 feet of all fences and structures.
(d) Pets are prohibited in parks during permitted class A, class B, and class C outdoor festivals, as defined in section 138-187 and 138-205. Pets are permitted in parks during class D and class E outdoor festivals, as defined in section 138-187 and 138-205. Any prohibition on pets during any outdoor festival or special event, regardless of whether the outdoor festival is class A, B, C, D, or E, shall not apply to those animals that are part of a performance, exhibit, or other activity conducted as part of the special event or festival, or when those animals are confined to a specific area of the park designated for that purpose.
(e) Subsections (c) and (d) of this section shall not apply to any guide dog especially trained for the purpose of accompanying a totally or partially blind person or a deaf person, or a service dog especially trained for the purpose of accompanying a physically disabled person, or a dog trained and licensed by and in the possession of the Atlanta Police Department or any other law enforcement agency, or a horse utilized by the city’s mounted police patrol.
(f) Certain defined areas of select parks shall be designated as off-leash dog areas. These areas must be completely fenced with a double-gated entrance and exit system. For any area of a park designated as an off-leash dog area, the rules set forth below shall apply. All of the rules below shall be posted on a sign at each entrance to the off-leash area. In the event that the rules are not posted, users of the area shall still be held responsible for knowing and following the rules, and may be fined or otherwise penalized for failure to abide by such rules. These rules may be augmented by the commissioner or her/his designee should s/he determine that additional rules are needed.
(1) All users of the off-leash area shall assume all risk and liability associated with such an area.
(2) Owners are responsible for the action of their dogs. Each dog must be kept within sight of her/his owner and under voice control.
(3) Dog owners have responsibility for watching their dog’s behavior. If a dog displays aggressive behavior or fights, the owner shall be responsible for immediately controlling or removing the dog from the off-leash area.
(4) No more than three dogs per owner shall be allowed in the area at one time.
(5) All dogs must wear a collar and ID tag.
(6) All dogs must be properly licensed, healthy, and have current vaccinations.
(7) No puppies under 16 weeks are allowed.
(8) No dogs in heat are allowed.
(9) No dogs are permitted to enter with pronged collars.
(10) Any dog that barks continually must be removed or muzzled by her/his owner.
(11) Owners must clean up after their dogs.
(12) The off-leash areas have double gated entrances. Owners must close and latch both gates after entering or exiting the area.
(13) No children under the age of 12 are allowed in the area without close adult supervision.
(14) The only food of any kind allowed is bite-size dog treats.
(15) Do not feed dogs without the owner’s permission.
(16) Bicycling, skateboarding, rollerblading, jogging or strollers are not allowed.
(17) Dogs are not permitted on benches.
(18) The off-leash area may be closed in times of bad weather or for maintenance.
(19) Serious problems resulting in injury must be reported immediately to the bureau of parks.
(Code 1977, § 10-2015; Ord. No. 2003-112, § 7, 12-9-03; Ord. No. 2005-04, §§ 1, 2, 1-24-05)
Cross references: Animals, ch. 18.
State law references: Right to have guide dog in public place, O.C.G.A. § 30-4-1.
Sec. 110-70.1. Dogs permitted in certain areas of Grant Park
(a) For the safety of dogs and zoo animals, dogs shall only be permitted in certain areas of Grant Park, provided the pet is on a leash and controlled by a competent person.
(b) It shall be unlawful for any person to permit such person’s dog within the following areas of Grant Park:
(1) Twenty-one acres of the zoo area and buildings
(2) Cyclorama building and area
(3) Swimming pool and pool area
(4) Tennis court area
(5) Athletic field areas
(c) It shall be the responsibility of any person bringing a dog into Grant Park to clean up any matter excreted by such pet.
Sec. 110-70.2. Dogs permitted in certain areas of Piedmont Park
An off-leash pet area for dogs shall be established on a two and one-half acre parcel of specified parkland within Piedmont Park. Said area shall be operated, maintained and supervised with appropriate equipment, supplies, signage, and fencing by the Piedmont Park Conservancy, Inc., at no cost to the City of Atlanta.
(Ord. No. 2002-25, § 1, 4-5-02; Ord. No. 2003-78, § 1, 6-24-03; Ord. No. 2005-04, § 3, 1-24-05)
Sec. 110-70.4. Dogs permitted in certain areas of Frankie Allen Park
(a) An off-leash pet area for dogs shall be established on a half-acre parcel of specified parkland within the Frankie Allen Park. Said area shall be operated, maintained and supervised with appropriate equipment, supplies, signage, and fencing by the David Forehand Memorial Organization, at no cost to the City of Atlanta.
(Ord. No. 2005-54, § 1, 9-12-05)
Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, dental malpractice, bus accidents, car accident cases and dog attack cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years. He practices in and around the Atlanta area including handling lawsuits in Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Gwinnett, Cobb and other counties and nearby cities including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured in a car accident and would like quality legal representation, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.