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How much will 2 citations for "Attacking Dog" and "Animal Control" cost and what am I liable for? How do I protect myself?

Smyrna, GA |

My 6 month old puppy ran out of the door before I could put his leash on and ran up to a dog on a leash. The dog on leash freaked out and viciously started barking and lunging at my dog. The owner panicked and screamed obscenities at me and did not pick up her dog. I ran over and got in the middle; the puppy was so scared he ran into my house and under the bed.She said he bit her(I never saw this) and showed me a tiny scratch on her knee (it didn't tear her leggings). It likely could have been a scratch and could have been her own dog. She also told the police I said things I never said. I was issued citations and the puppy is allowed to stay at home but can't go anywhere for 10 days. I have a court date in November. How much will this cost and what am I liable for?

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Attorney answers 3


You posted this in the wrong part of AVVO, so the lawyers that were seeing it were ones that would have assisted you if you were suing for damages if you had been injured, and that's not the case here. I changed the topic to criminal defense, as yopu have been charged with crimes.

You will want to talk to a criminal defense lawyer, as there are three things here - one is the fines or jail time you could receive, one is the possibility that the court may take away your animal, and the third is that you may be subject to civil suit (as to the third, you want to be sure that you have reported this to your homeowner's insurance as they defend the civil but not criminal claims).

The fines vary by court and each city has its own oridnances. In some he maximum sentence for each count could be $1000 in fines, additional state surcharges, court costs and 6 months in jail. (Obviously a lesser sentence is quite possible, and not all cities have fines and sentences that large). But the answer varies by every city, and the judge will set amounts after hearing the case, IF you are convicted or enter a plea.


There should be a phone number on the citations you received where you can call the clerk of court to ask what the fines are for these citations. You can then decide whether you need a criminal attorney. The owner who said your dog bit her could potentially sue you for personal injury but it sounds like she wasn't really hurt. The statute of limitations for the pi claim is 2 years.


In Georgia, pet owners are responsible for keeping their dogs on a leash or otherwise appropriately contained. Pet owners are also responsible for any damages caused by their dogs when the dogs are not appropriately restrained. In your case, you may be subject to a fine for the citations and potentially restitution to the other person for any medical expenses they incurred. Typically, however, courts prefer personal injury claims to be dealt with via civil remedies. A couple of things you should consider doing include: 1) put your homeowner's insurer on notice of a potential claim; 2) contact a criminal defense attorney to discuss fighting the citations; 3) contact the animal control officer that took the report to dispute the things the other person told him you said.

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