Ga. House rejects vicious dog penalties

No felony charges if animal mauls or kills person

ATLANTA -- The House of Representatives rejected a bill Monday that would have subjected the owner of a vicious dog to felony charges if the animal mauls or kills a person.

Although the vote was 82-73, it fell short of the majority of House members required for passage. Its sponsor, Rep. Penny Houston, R-Nashville, announced she intends to ask the House to reconsider the vote Wednesday when the General Assembly is in session again.

“This bill is to make the owners of vicious dogs responsible when they kill or maul another person. Every week we read in the newspaper about an attack by a vicious dog,” she said.

The felony would only apply after a court hearing determines the dog is “vicious” because of two other attacks against humans. It does not specify certain breeds.

Some legislators expressed concerns about whether it would apply to a dog secured in a pen is accidentally released by someone other than the owner or if the victim of an attack was trespassing

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