Deal signs vicious-dog bill into lawBy Walter C. Jones
Morris News Service
ATLANTA — Among the bills Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law last week was one raising the penalties for owners of dogs that attack humans to include prison time.
The Responsible Dog Ownership Law only received a single “no” vote in passing the General Assembly in March.
The sponsor, Rep. Gene Maddox, R-Cairo, said it was necessary because of well-publicized attacks on children in the Savannah and Atlanta area in the last year.
Maddox is a retired veterinarian.
There would be a hearing to determine if an attack warranted classifying the dog as “vicious,” which allows a judge to order it destroyed. Otherwise, the owner must register the animal, put up warning signs and secure it in a locked pen with a microchip under its skin. A $50,000 bond is also needed.
If a vicious dog is involved in a new attack, the owner could be sent to prison for one to 10 years and face of fine up to $10,000.