|Pless v. State||
In this Georgia case, the defendant was convicted by a jury in the trial court of two counts of failure to keep an animal under restraint and one count of allowing an animal to become a public nuisance. Defendant appealed, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence. The appellate court found that the evidence showed that in the months prior to the July 14 and August 1 incidents, Pless's dogs were repeatedly found loose in neighbors' yards and garages. Accordingly, evidence supported the conviction on the charge of allowing an animal to become a public nuisance under § 3-4-7(5). ("Public nuisance" is defined, among other things, as any animal which "[i]s found repeatedly at large."). On certiorari review, the Georgia Supreme Court in
State v. Pless, 646 S.E.2d 202 (Ga. 2007)
reversed judgment of Pless v. State, 633 S.E.2d 340 (Ga. App. 2006), and the case was then sent to
Pless v. State, 648 S.E.2d 752 (Ga. App. 2007)
|Ranwez v. Roberts||
|Ranwez v. Roberts||
|Roper v. Greenway||
|Rowlette v. Paul||
This Georgia case involved a dog bite to a person who went to went to the Pauls' house in order to verify and update information for the Oglethorpe County Tax Assessor's Office. The court held that in the absence of any evidence showing that the owners of a dog had knowledge, prior to a mauling incident, that their dog had ever bitten another human being, the owners of the dog were not liable to the victim even though the dog's presence on the premises where the incident occurred was in violation of the county leash law. In order to support an action for damages under OCGA § 51-2-7, it is necessary to show that the dog was vicious or dangerous and that the owner had knowledge of this fact.
|Saulsbury v. Wilson||This Georgia involves an interlocutory appeal arising from a dog bite lawsuit. In 2016, Plaintiff Saulsbury was walking her English Bulldog past Defendant Wilson's house when Wilson's pitbull dog escaped its crate in the open garage. A fight ensued between the dogs. Wilson then attempted to break up the fight and was allegedly bitten by Saulsbury's dog, suffering a broken arm in the process and necessitating a course of rabies shots. The Saulsburys then sued the Wilsons in magistrate court to recover hospital and veterinary expenses. Wilson counterclaimed for her injuries in excess $15,000, thus transferring the case to superior court. At this time, the Saulsburys moved for summary judgment, which the trial court denied. The Court of Appeals here reverses that denial. The court found that Wilson assumed the risk when she intervened in a dog fight with her bare hands. In particular, the court observed that assumption of risk serves as a complete defense to negligence. That finding was bolstered by the fact that Wilson had knowledge that her dog had previously bitten other persons and had admitted to breaking up previous dog fights with a stick. The court relied on previous case law showing that all animals, even domesticated animals, pose a risk as does the act of breaking up even human fights. The court was not persuaded by the fact that Saulsbury may have been in violation of various DeKalb County ordinances related to an owner's responsibility to control his or her animal. A plain reading of those ordinances does not impose a duty on the part of an owner to "dangerously insert herself into a dog fight." The court found the lower court erred in denying the Saulsbury's motion for summary judgment and reversed and remanded the case.|
|SIRMANS v. THE STATE||
|State v. Peabody||This Georgia case involves a former police lieutenant who was indicted on two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals after he left his K-9 named Inka locked in his police vehicle while he attended to tasks inside his home. The dog died after being left inside the vehicle, which had all doors and windows closed with no A/C or ventilation running. The state appeals the trial court's grant of defendant's motion to quash the indictment. Specifically, the state argues that OCGA § 17-7-52 (a law that requires at least a 20-day notice prior to presentment of a proposed indictment to a grand jury when a peace officer is charged with a crime that occurred in the performance of his or her duties) is inapplicable. The state did not send defendant a copy of the proposed indictment before it presented the case to the grand jury. The state contends defendant "stepped aside" from his police-related duties and was therefore not afforded the protections of OCGA § 17-7-52. This court disagreed with that assessment. Since Peabody was responsible for the care and housing of Inka as her K-9 handler, leaving her unattended, albeit in an illegal manner, was still in performance of his police duties. As such, Peabody was entitled to the procedural protections of the statute according to the appellate court. The trial court's motion to quash his indictment was affirmed.|
|State v. Pless||
|Steagald v. Eason||
In this case, Gary and Lori Steagald sued the Eason family, alleging that the Easons failed to keep their dog properly restrained and were therefore liable under OCGA § 51-2-7. Lori Steagald suffered injuries after the Easons dog attacked her while she was visiting the Easons home. The Easons filed a motion for summary judgment on the basis that they had no reason to know that the dog was vicious or dangerous and therefore were not liable under the statute. Both the trial court and Court of Appeals affirmed the motion for summary judgment. On appeal, the Supreme Court of Georgia reversed the lower court’s decision. Ultimately, the Supreme Court of Georgia found that the Eason family was liable under the statute because they did have reason to believe that the dog could potentially be vicious or dangerous. The Court focused on the fact that the dog had previously “growled and snapped” at the Easons while being fed. The Court held that although the dog had never bit anyone prior to Lori Steagald, it was reasonable to assume that the dog could potentially bite and injure someone given the fact that it had a history of snapping and growling. As a result, the Court reversed the Easons motion for summary judgment and determined that the question of whether or not the Easons are liable under the statute is a question for the jury.