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What Is the Dangerous Dog Procedure Act?

Posted on August 15, 2018

Whether you are a pet owner or someone who knows how dangerous a vicious dog can be, the Dangerous Dog Procedure Act is an important law for Alabama residents. Legislators enacted this law in 2017 to declare a dog dangerous for the safety of others. If you or a family member has suffered an injury due to a dog attack in Alabama, you need to what this act means for you, your family, and your dogs.

Why Alabama’s Dangerous Dog Procedure Matters

In 2017, 39 fatal dog bites occurred across the United States. Of these attacks, two happened in Alabama – both from two separate groups of pit bulls. Dog bites, while not always fatal, are a major public health concern – and carry significant consequences for personal injury law and litigation. While most dog bites are not fatal, the prevalence of dog bites has caused a significant concern among legislators to address this public safety concern.

Courts may hold pet owners responsible for dog bites – particularly if they do not adequately train the dog or protect visitors and family from dangerous dogs. For this reason, it is important to understand the legal status of dog bites and liability in the event of a dog attack and the legal requirements under the new act.

Though certain breeds are notorious for attacks – and the statistics do suggest pit bulls are more likely to cause fatal injuries – the reality is that all dogs are capable of attacking a person. The best predictor of an attack is a dog’s past behavior, and it is repeat attacks that the new act seeks to address. 

What Is the Dangerous Dog Procedure Act?

Alabama’s Dangerous Dog Procedure Act is one of several state and regional acts that provide legal parameters to declare a dog “dangerous” under court order. Essentially, the state declares a dog dangerous if it has a history of causing injury or attacking humans. Following a dog attack or bite, a hearing will review the dog’s personal history and training to determine whether that dog is legally dangerous.

A few different outcomes are possible after a hearing. A judge may declare the dog in question as both dangerous and likely to attack again. In this case, the judge may order a professional to euthanize the dog. It is possible, however, that a judge may decide a dog is unlikely to repeat an attack. Regardless, if the particular dog attacks again, it is possible that the owner may face increased fines and litigation for injury.

Owners of a dangerous dog are subject to further requirements for their dog if a judge allows the dog to return. Violating these requirements is a criminal offense in Alabama under the Dangerous Dog Procedure Act. Depending on the circumstances, this can result in either a felony or misdemeanor charge, and pet owners should take this seriously. Dog owners must understand their responsibility for their dog’s behavior and how the new act provides punitive measures for negligence of their guests’, families’, and friends’ safety.

How Can an Attorney Help?

While following a court’s orders may prevent criminal liability, it does not guarantee freedom from personal injury litigation. Under these circumstances, it may be worthwhile to contact a Birmingham dog bite attorney to understand your situation and requirements.

Attacks from dogs can fall under personal liability claims. A pet owner who doesn’t protect others from dangerous dogs may be responsible for the injuries that result from an attack. If you have questions after a dog bite injury, an Alabama attorney can explain the next steps for a personal injury case and help you understand your legal situation.