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Not every Georgia dog is a peach

Most dog owners understand the heavy responsibility they bear in caring for their pets. They know they have a moral obligation to provide adequate food, water and shelter. Society also expects dog owners to have their animals properly vaccinated and to provide suitable attention to socialize them. Many go above and beyond those minimum requirements, elevating their pets to the level of family members and lavishing them with more affection than some humans receive.

However, dog ownership also carries the responsibility of protecting other people from the unpredictability of their animals. Those pet parents who have an affinity for certain breeds may have an unusually heavy burden. Although some states have developed lists of dangerous breeds or even laws banning those breeds, Georgia has not yet taken that step. Instead, all dog owners are on notice.

Every dog has the potential to bite

If you have seen news stories about dogs biting or attacking people, you may have heard an owner claiming the dog was gentle and had never hurt anyone in the past. On the other hand, you may also be familiar with dogs that seem to be constantly on guard, barking and snarling at you when you pass. It may not be difficult for you to identify the owners of aggressive dogs since many believe the disposition of a dog is more a result of its upbringing than its breed.

Still, while any dog can be vicious, some breeds seem to cause more than their share of emergency room visits, and the sheer size and strength of certain breeds allow them to inflict serious injuries if they bite you. Pit bulls, Rottweilers and German shepherds are a few breeds against which some jurisdictions have restrictions -- such as banning them from dog parks -- and some insurance companies make hike your rates if you own a dog of a characteristically vicious breed.

How the laws protect you

While Georgia does not have a state law banning any breed of dog, laws are in place to protect you from dogs that bite, for example:

  • The owner of a dog that bites you or injures your pet must register the dog each year.
  • The owner must secure the dog and post warnings that the dog is dangerous.
  • The owner must purchase $50,000 or more in liability insurance in case the dog bites again.
  • The dog must receive a microchip.
  • A dog that seriously injures on more than one occasion must be euthanized.

Without question, a dog of even the most notorious breed can be a loving companion, and a gentle breed in the wrong hands can be volatile. If you suffered injuries in a dog attack, you likely don't care which breed of dog bit you. Your main concerns are undoubtedly your physical and emotional healing as well as taking steps to hold the dog's owner responsible for the damage the dog inflicted.

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