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Living Near a Trained Attack Dog? Better Yet, Was It Sent to Attack by the Owner?

Published March 21, 2018 by Bruce Millar
Living Near a Trained Attack Dog? Better Yet, Was It Sent to Attack by the Owner?

We talk often about dog bite cases – that’s because we probably handle more of this kind of case than anybody else in the Greater Atlanta Area. Even though dog attack cases can sometimes be hard to win, we still take them on because we find that people ought to be able to move about freely without the fear of being attacked by man or beast. And, as a matter of fact, we also win more of these cases than just about any law firm in the area.

And, when we talk about dog attacks, people automatically think “pit-bull.” The fact is the most dangerous dog out there is still in dispute. Mail carriers say the little ones are the worst. The statistics say that in terms of dangerous breeds German Shepherds come in third, right after Pit-bulls and Rottweilers. Perhaps we give German Shepherds a pass because they are sometimes called “Police dogs.” A dog that is trained to do the work of policemen and security guards has something in its nature that is inherently violent.

Sometimes we see cases in which it is the dog’s owners who might better be kept on a leash. In this case, a man and his wife, who were obviously not on good terms with their neighbors, heard the neighbor saying that he hoped his dog would get loose and kill the husband next door. Later on that day, while in their own back yard, the neighbor’s German shepherd came running toward the wife. When the husband attempted to intervene the dog bit and injured him.

The husband and wife brought a suit against the dog’s owner on the basis of the Georgia statute that demands that owners of a dangerous animal must take special precautions to keep the animal secured away from other people. When the owner is aware of a dog’s vicious propensities and those owners carelessly manage the animal, they may be liable for damages.

The plaintiffs declared that not only had this dog bitten the plaintiff, but that he had also chased and behaved aggressively toward small children by knocking them down and growling and snarling at them. There was no evidence, however, that the dog had ever bitten anybody.

The trial court granted the defendant dog owners’ motion for summary judgment. This essentially dismisses the case and a jury’s deliberation is not required because all the relevant questions of law are already answered.

The plaintiffs appealed this decision saying that there were, indeed, questions remaining particularly as regarded the dog owner’s claims that the dog was trained to attack, evidenced by his ordering the dog to attack the neighbor woman on one occasion. (The dog did charge at the woman as ordered, but his master called him off before he reached her.)

The appellate court held that the trial court erred in granting the dog owner’s motion for summary judgment and sent the matter back for trial. The court agreed that the owner could be held liable if he KNEW of the dog’s propensity to be vicious, or if there was reason to believe the dog could inflict harm.

The court opined that while there was no evidence the dog had bitten anyone previously, the evidence of the dog owner’s previous threats involving the dog were sufficient to create a question for a jury to answer about what he did know about the dog’s nature.

So, this case went back for a jury trial. In this case, the dog owners did seem to know that the dog could be dangerous which countermanded their previous testimony.

Generally speaking, Georgia’s laws are straightforward. Even non-lawyers can see, in the end, why verdicts come down the way they do. The appeals court gave the plaintiffs in this case the chance to prove that the owner did know and actually used the dog’s temperament to strike fear in those he wanted to threaten.

Subtitle: Ask the experts.

At The Millar Law Firm, we have seen so many cases around dog attacks that we know where the keys to winning such a case lie. Not only do we handle lots of dog-bite, we also win more than most other attorneys because we do personal injury law exclusively. Because it is our only focus, we are often able to change the outcome of a case through our experience.

If you have a personal injury case, please contact the specialists at The Millar Law Firm. We offer a free case evaluation and can advise you about the likelihood of prevailing in court. Before you give up on a dog-bite case, discuss it with us. It costs you nothing, and is the key to making an educated decision. Call us today. You’ll be glad you did.

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