New Alabama Law Could Land Dog Owners in Jail

Dog Bite Lawyer Florence, AL

Additional restrictions and harsher fines are on the way for Alabama residents who own dangerous dogs. Emily’s Law, signed by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey in early March, becomes effective June 1st, 2018.

Dog Attack Laws

Named after Emily Colvin, who was attacked and killed by a pack of dogs in her front yard in Jackson County, this new law aims to establish investigation procedures after a dog attack in Alabama. A trial is to be held in municipal court or district court if the dog was determined dangerous by animal control officers or law enforcement officials. The dog will also be impounded pending trial, if the case goes to court.

Types of Dog Attacks in Alabama

Any dog attack in Alabama that leaves an innocent victim seriously injured or dead will result in humane euthanasia of the dog. An injury is considered serious if it causes any of the following:

  • A substantial risk of death
  • Serious and protracted disfigurement
  • Protracted impairment of health
  • Protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ

If the dog did not cause any serious injuries during the attack, the court has two options. The dog could either be humanely euthanized or returned to the current owner as long as specific guidelines are met.

Guidelines for Owners of a Dangerous Dog in Alabama

If a dog has attacked an innocent victim but did not cause serious injuries, owners are now required to follow the strict conditions below to keep their dog.

  • The dog must be registered each year with animal control or the county health department.
  • A $100,000-surety bond is required for vet and medical costs to cover a potential attack.
  • The dog must be spayed or neutered and easily identifiable with a microchip.
  • The owner must construct a secure enclosure for when the dog is left outside without the owner present; and
  • All annual fees, animal licensing fees and court costs must be paid.

Also, the owner must keep the dangerous dog secure on a collar and leash when the dog is outside an enclosure to avoid facing criminal charges.

Additional Penalties for Dog Attacks

Emily’s law also adds several new penalties for dangerous dog owners in Alabama:

Class B Felony:

  • The dog was already declared dangerous
  • An attack occurs without justification
  • The dog seriously injures or kills an innocent victim

Class B Felonies are punishable with a prison sentence of not more than 20 years or less than 2 years and a fine of up to $30,000.

Class C Felony:

  • The dog was not already declared dangerous
  • An attack occurs without justification
  • The dog seriously injures or kills an innocent victim
  • The owner recklessly disregards the dangerous propensities of the dog

Class C Felonies are punishable with a prison sentence of not more than 10 years or less than 1 year and 1 day and a fine up to $15,000.

Class A Misdemeanor:

  • The dog was already declared dangerous
  • An attack occurs without justification
  • The attack results in non-serious injuries

A Class A Misdemeanor includes a jail sentence of not more than 1 year and a fine up to $6,000.

Class B Misdemeanor:

  • The dog was not already declared dangerous
  • An attack occurs without justification
  • The attack results in non-serious injuries
  • The owner recklessly disregards the dangerous propensities of the dog

Class B Misdemeanors include a jail sentence of up to 6 months and a fine up to $3,000.

Class C Misdemeanor:

  • Owner refuses to surrender the dog during an investigation
  • Failure to keep the dangerous dog secure in an enclosure or with a collar and leash.
  • Making false reports about a dog that is dangerous.

A Class C Misdemeanor includes a jail sentence of not more than 3 months and a fine up to $500.

Contact a Dog Attack Lawyer Now

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured by a dangerous dog in Alabama, contact the experienced dog attack lawyers at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C. We can get started today with a free case review.