An Atlanta woman was brutally attacked by three pit bulls in Douglas County earlier this week while taking her morning walk on a public sidewalk. Although the dogs’ owner was out of the state at the time his three dogs attacked, Douglas County’s Solicitor-General has cited him with 20 misdemeanor charges. The Solicitor General is contemplating whether to also criminally charge the caretaker, whom the owner claimed was in charge of the dogs while he was away.
Dogs display three types of aggression: prey, pack, and defense. When dogs are in packs, especially if not adequately socialized when they are young, they can become aggressive towards people, whether provoked or not. The “pack-mentality” is simply the social attitude of dogs and how they fit in the group, but carries with it the danger that one member of the pack may become aggressive simply because of actions by other dogs in the pack. Perhaps as this incident shows, the three dogs could quickly have been led to jointly act aggressive because of an act of the other.
The three pit bills caused severe injuries to the woman’s face, arms and legs. Fortunately, neighbors were able to hear the screams of panic and rushed out to fight the dogs away from her, hitting them with rocks and sticks. The woman is now out of the hospital, but is facing a long and painful recovery, facing a skin grafting procedure for injuries to her face. Although Douglas County Animal Control captured two of the pit bulls, the third female broke free from her leash while being brought into the animal shelter. The dog quickly fled the premises and is currently on the loose around the neighborhood. As evidenced by the dog’s demeanor, there still exists the possibility that someone else will be injured.
Although a dog can act docile or submissive a majority of the time, it is important to know your dogs reactions in certain situations, especially if your dog has shown signs of unprovoked aggression. By understanding the triggers of your dog’s aggression, or situations that may cause your dog to act violently or unpredictably, you can avoid situations that can cause injury to others. Unfortunately, a 56-year-old woman paid a dire price because of the apparent failure of a dog owner of knowing his dog’s behavior and not taking the proper precautions in protecting others from possible harm.
Despite the misconception, both by lawyers and dog owners alike, in most cases Georgia law holds dog owners liable for all injuries the dog causes, regardless of whether the dog has bitten before. Dog owners are responsible for actions of their pets, and accordingly should take the proper measures to ensure the safety of others. The owner in this case failed to contemplate the danger that his dogs could cause, and neglected to understand what situations could change their behavior. A woman paid the price, and unfortunately possibly faces a future of her face being scarred forever. A lawsuit based on negligence will probably be necessary in order to properly compensate the victim in this case.
Celebrity “Dog Whisperer,” Cesar Milan, states that dogs need to understand their role in the pack (which can be formed even by a human family), and the owner should be the dominant member of the pack, by setting limits of what acts are allowed and prohibited. If dog owners understand their dog’s behavior, set limits, and take measures to protect other’s from danger, people wanting to take leisurely walks will not have the fear of being attacked by dangerous dogs.
Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, dog attack cases, 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 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 in a dog attack and would like quality legal representation, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.