Alabama Dog Owners Could Face Jail Time for Dog Attacks Under New Law

March 5, 2018 Dog Bite
German Shepherd Biting A Man's Arm Stock Photo

Alabama lawmakers recently passed a bill that imposes tougher fines and restrictions on dog owners whose dogs have seriously injured or killed innocent people. Emily’s Law is named in honor of Emily Colvin, a 24-year-old woman who died tragically in a horrific five-dog attack in December of 2017.

Under the new law, the police or animal control officer would impound the dog responsible for attacks of a serious nature. In order to determine fault, a court would review the evidence of the case. If after review the court found that the dog did, in fact, cause serious injury or death, the dog could be euthanized.

In our recent blog post about Alabama dog bite laws, we reported that the owner is not at fault if the dog was provoked or the person was trespassing. These exclusions still apply in Emily’s law.

However, even if the court decides that the dog did not cause serious injury or death, the owner is not off the hook. The attack still took place, and the dog showed signs of aggressive behavior. Therefore, in an effort to help ensure the animal will not cause serious harm in the future, owners must follow strict guidelines.

Because of risk of severe penalty, these new guidelines are incredibly important to follow. Under Emily’s Law, if a dog attacks someone again, the owner could face 20 years in jail and be charged with a Class C felony.

Guidelines Dog Owners Must Follow if Their Pet Previously Attacked, But Did Not Cause Serious Injuries

  • Owner must ensure the dog is registered with animal control or the county health department each year
  • Owner must make sure the dog is neutered/spayed and identified with a tattoo or microchip
  • Owner must get a $100,000-surety bond to cover medical and vet costs in the event of a dog attack
  • Owner must make sure the dog is kept in a secure enclosure if the dog is outside without the owner watching
  • Renters must receive permission from their landlords in order to keep a dog on the property
  • Owner must provide a notarized affidavit that explains that the dog will be supervised by a person that is at least 18 years of age when outside an enclosure
  • Owner must pay all annual fees and animal licensing fees
  • Owner must inform new owners of the dog’s dangers and the strict rules that must be followed
  • Owner must let police or animal control visit the property at any time without a warrant to ensure rules are being followed

The tougher rules and fines are in place in order to reduce the number of preventable dog attacks. Emily Colvin was attacked by a pack of pitt bulls who were involved in previous acts of aggression, including an attack on a neighbor’s dogs, attack on another person and an attack on a neighbor’s llamas, six of which were killed.

If a law such as this was in place before Emily’s tragic death, the owners would have been held responsible for their dogs’ history of attacks.

Emily’s death could have been prevented.

Dog attacks are a major issue across the United States. 39 dog bite fatalities occurred in the U.S. in 2017, and pitt bulls were responsible for 74% of those deaths. Dog attacks in Alabama are reflecting this unfortunate trend, as the state is experiencing an increase in fatal pitt bull attacks, with five fatalities occurring from 2014 to 2017.

On any given day, the negligence of owners can cause dog attacks that leave families reeling from the preventable loss of their loved ones. It is vital that pet owners are aware and understand these new laws and ensure their dogs are well cared for and kept secure on their properties to prevent attacks. It’s time to take action to prevent these accidents from occurring and keep Alabama citizens safe.

If you or a loved one is seriously injured in a dog attack, call the experienced Alabama Dog Attack Lawyers at Floyd Hunter Injury Law at 334- 523-8150 for a free and confidential consultation.