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When an Animal Shelter May Be Responsible for a Dog Bite

Posted on : July 24, 2017

Suffering an attack from a dog can be an unexpected and frightening experience. This is particularly true if the injuries suffered were critical or even life threatening. More often than not, a dog attack occurs at someone’s home or when an owner lets their dog run loose.

In these cases, Georgia law provides legal remedy for victims when an owner exhibits negligence. The owner is considered negligent if they allowed people to come into contact with a dog known to be vicious. However, if the dog that attacked was a shelter dog, there may be more questions than answers.

Dog Bite Law in Georgia

Unlike states with strict liability laws, where dog owners can be held liable for injuries caused by their dog any time they bite, Georgia’s dog bite statute, found at O.C.G.A. 51-2-7, only considers a dog bite owner responsible if he or she had prior knowledge of the dog’s history of biting. This means that a dog often gets a “free bite,” if the dog has never attacked anyone before. However, once a dog bites, it is considered vicious. The owner will likely be held accountable for injuries caused by their dog after the original incident.

Allowing a Dog Known to Be Vicious to Be Handled or Adopted

Shelter dogs may not have an owner, but the shelter is responsible as long as they are in the shelter’s care and in some cases, shortly after adoption. If the shelter knew of a dog’s vicious history and allowed the dog to be handled or adopted, it is possible that they can be held to the same legal standard as owners.

Many shelters won’t allow vicious dogs to be handled or adopted. However, some will hide this information so the dog can be adopted vs. euthanized. Winning a case like this can be difficult. The burden of proof rests squarely on the shoulders of the victim. It is challenging to obtain documentation that the shelter knew of the dog’s history and neglected to inform anyone who handled or adopted the animal.

Contact Chalker Injury Law Today

If you or a loved one have been the victim of a dog bite while handling a shelter dog or shortly after adopting one, you need strong legal advocacy. At Chalker Injury Law, we can help you determine if you will be able to recover damages. Call today for a consultation at (678) 319-9991.

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