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Atlanta Injury Lawyer > Blog > Dog Bites > What Does a “Classified” Dog Mean Under Georgia Dog Bite Laws?

What Does a “Classified” Dog Mean Under Georgia Dog Bite Laws?


The body of dog bite laws in the US comes from multiple sources, and the oldest is the common law. Our judicial system was based upon the concept of precedent, which means prior court decisions dictate the rights of victims. However, many US states have supplemented common law dog bite concepts by passing legislation. There are a few statutes in Georgia, one of which is the Responsible Dog Ownership Law. An important provision in this law is the classification of dogs, which relates to their prior history – not breed.

The classification of dogs is crucial for owners to comply with the statute, since the objective is to protect the public. However, if a canine is classified, these concepts can also play a role in a dog bite claim. There are higher standards for keeping and managing classified dogs, and failures may lead to liability. You should discuss details with a Georgia dog bite laws attorney, but some background information is useful.

 Dangerous or Vicious Classifications: Georgia’s Responsible Dog Ownership Law defines a classified dog as one that has been designated as a dangerous or vicious canine under the provisions of the statute.

Dangerous Dogs: There are three factors that could lead to this classification:

  1. The dog caused a substantial puncture of a human’s skin by teeth, without causing serious injury.
  2. The dog aggressively attacked in a way that made the victim believe serious injury would occur, even if there was no such injury.
  3. The dog left the owner’s property and killed someone’s pet.

Vicious Classification: A dog is considered vicious if it causes serious injury, meaning:

  • Injuries that carry a risk of death;
  • Deep penetrating wounds and lacerations;
  • Broken bones;
  • Infection;
  • Impairment of the function of bodily organs; and,
  • Trauma that requires plastic or cosmetic surgery.

Georgia Dog Bite Laws for Classified Dogs: When a dog is classified by its prior history of attacks, bites, and aggression, owners are obligated to comply with numerous legal requirements. For instance:

  • Only adults can own a classified dog, and they can own only one.
  • Only one classified dog may occupy a residence or other premises.
  • Owners must obtain a certificate of registration once the dog is classified as dangerous or vicious. Only one certificate shall be issued per address, and these are non transferable.
  • A person who has been convicted of violating Georgia dog ownership laws may not own a classified dog.
  • A dog classified as vicious may not be kept at a premises occupied by individuals who have been convicted of certain felonies.
  • Classified dogs must be on a leash no more than 6 feet long when off the owner’s property.

Our Atlanta Dog Bite Laws Attorneys are Prepared to Support Your Legal Needs

Georgia’s dog bite laws that classify dogs are critical for public safety, but you can see how a violation could work in your favor. To learn more, please contact Zagoria Law to schedule a free case assessment. You can call 404.653.0023 or go online to speak to an Atlanta dog bite lawyer.



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