According to this recent Atlanta Journal Constitution article, one child is dead and another was seriously wounded when three pit bulls attacked them while they were on their way to school on a street in southwest Atlanta. It is hard to imagine a more senseless killing.
According to AJC reporter Alexis Stevens, it was “an extraordinarily savage attack, two dogs that had wandered over from another street set upon the children as they walked to their bus stop.” One of the children later died at the hospital, while the other underwent emergency surgery at Egleston Children’s Healthcare and was in stable condition after the surgery.
The Atlanta Police Department apparently arrested the owner of the dogs and charged him with reckless conduct. Additional charges, if any, would be the decision of the Fulton County District Attorney, Paul Howard.
In Atlanta, as in most municipalities, the owner of a dog that attacks innocent bystanders in public is liable for the damages suffered by the victim of the attack. Most of the time, liability for the damages against the owner of the dog is proven through the local leash law. While most leash laws vary in their breadth and complexity, almost all of the laws require that an owner of a dog properly constrain the dog by leash (though it could be by other means) so that the dog does not have the opportunity to attack the public. Simply allowing your dog to roam the neighborhood is clearly a violation of the Atlanta leash law. Under the applicable law which is §110-70 of the municipal code of Atlanta:
(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.
The criminal charges in cases such as these are part and parcel with the civil liability in the case and a criminal conviction may be used as proof of negligence in the civil case for dog attack causes of action.
Robert J. Fleming has been handling dog attack cases, dental malpractice, bus accidents, car accident cases and premises injury 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, Georgia 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 and would like discuss your case in complete confidence, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.