Full Statute Name:  Code of Alabama. Title 3. Animals. Chapter 6. Liability of Owners of Dogs Biting or Injuring Persons. Liability of owner of dog for injuries to person bitten or injured while upon property owned or controlled by owner, etc.; Mitigation of damages.; Construction of chapter. Title 3. Animals. Chapter 1. General Provisions. Liability of owner, etc., for injuries caused by rabid dog. Title 3. Animals. Chapter 6A. Control of Dangerous Dogs. Title 3. Animals. Chapter 7A. Rabies.

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Popular Title:  Dog Bite Laws Primary Citation:  Ala. Code 1975 § 3-1-1 - 6; § 3-6-1 - 4; Ala.Code 1975 § 3-6A-1 - 8; § 3-7A-9 Country of Origin:  United States Last Checked:  April, 2019 Alternate Citation:  AL ST § 3-1-1 - 6; AL ST § 3-6-1 - 4; AL ST § 3-7A-9
Summary:

These Alabama statutes outline the state's dog bite law.  The law first provides that, when any person owns or keeps a vicious or dangerous animal of any kind and, as a result of his or her careless management or allowing the dog to go at liberty, and another person, without fault is injured, such owner shall be liable in damages for such injury.  If any dog shall, without provocation, bite or injure any person who is at the time at a place where he or she has a legal right to be, the owner of such dog shall be liable in damages to the person so bitten or injured.  This apparent strict liability has a mitigation provision that states that the owner of such dog shall be entitled to plead and prove in mitigation of damages that he had no knowledge of any circumstances indicating such dog to be or to have been vicious or dangerous.  If an owner, however, is aware that his or her dog is rabid at the time of the bite, he or she shall be liable for twice the damages sustained.

TITLE 3. ANIMALS. CHAPTER 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS.

§ 3-1-1. Keeping of dog known to kill, etc., stock prohibited; liability of owner for injuries, etc., caused by same; liability for killing of same.

§ 3-1-2. Liability of owner, etc., for injuries caused by rabid dog.

§ 3-1-3. Liability of owner, etc., permitting vicious or dangerous animal to be at liberty, etc., for injuries caused by same.

§ 3-1-4. Permitting dog or hog known to kill, etc., sheep, domestic fowl, etc., to run at large.

§ 3-1-5. Permitting dogs to run at large; applicability of provisions of section in counties and certain cities or towns.

§ 3-1-6. Liability of owner, etc., for injuries to livestock, etc., caused by dog while off premises of owner, etc.

TITLE 3. ANIMALS. CHAPTER 6. LIABILITY OF OWNERS OF DOGS BITING OR INJURING PERSONS.

§ 3-6-1. Liability of owner of dog for injuries to person bitten or injured while upon property owned or controlled by owner, etc.

§ 3-6-2. When person deemed lawfully on property of owner of dog.

§ 3-6-3. Mitigation of damages.

§ 3-6-4. Construction of chapter.

Title 3. Animals. Chapter 6A. Control of Dangerous Dogs. 

TITLE 3. ANIMALS. CHAPTER 7A. RABIES.

§ 3-7A-9. Quarantine of dog or cat which bites human being; destruction of animal and examination of head; certain acts of or omissions by owner unlawful; delivery of quarantine instructions to owner; report of results; canine corps and seeing eye dogs.

 

TITLE 3. ANIMALS. CHAPTER 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS.  

  § 3-1-1. Keeping of dog known to kill, etc., stock prohibited; liability of owner for injuries, etc., caused by same; liability for killing of same.

No person shall keep any dog which has been known to kill or worry sheep or other stock without being set upon the same. Any person knowingly keeping such dog is liable for double the value of all stock killed or injured by such dog, such damages to be recovered by the owner of such stock before any court of competent jurisdiction and no action shall be maintained against anyone for killing such dog.

CREDIT(S)

(Code 1867, § 1296; Code 1876, § 1601; Code 1886, § 1379; Code 1896, § 421; Code 1907, § 2832; Code 1923, § 6072; Code 1940, T. 3, § 1.)

 

§ 3-1-2. Liability of owner, etc., for injuries caused by rabid dog.

The owner or person in charge of any dog, who knows that such dog has been bitten by a rabid dog or has knowledge of such facts that if followed up would disclose the facts that such dog has been bitten by or exposed to a rabid dog, if such dog becomes a rabid dog and bites any person, stock, hogs or cattle shall be liable to twice the damages sustained by the person injured, including appropriate medical treatment, such damages to be recovered in any court of competent jurisdiction.

CREDIT(S) 

(Acts 1915, No. 477, p. 541; Code 1923, § 6073; Code 1940, T. 3, § 2.)

 

§ 3-1-3. Liability of owner, etc., permitting vicious or dangerous animal to be at liberty, etc., for injuries caused by same.

When any person owns or keeps a vicious or dangerous animal of any kind and, as a result of his careless management of the same or his allowing the same to go at liberty, and another person, without fault on his part, is injured thereby, such owner or keeper shall be liable in damages for such injury.

CREDIT(S) 

(Code 1907, § 2470; Code 1923, § 5678; Code 1940, T. 3, § 3.)

 

§ 3-1-4. Permitting dog or hog known to kill, etc., sheep, domestic fowl, etc., to run at large.

Any person, who, owning or having in his possession or under his control any dog or hog known to worry or kill sheep, domestic fowls or goats suffers such dog or hog to run at large must, on conviction, be fined not less than $5.00 nor more than $50.00.

CREDIT(S) 

(Code 1876, § 4405; Code 1886, § 4171; Code 1896, § 5591; Code 1907, § 6236; Code 1923, § 3219; Code 1940, T. 3, § 4.)

 

§ 3-1-5. Permitting dogs to run at large; applicability of provisions of section in counties and certain cities or towns.

(a) Every person owning or having in charge any dog or dogs shall at all times confine such dog or dogs to the limits of his own premises or the premises on which such dog or dogs is or are regularly kept. Nothing in this section shall prevent the owner of any dog or dogs or other person or persons having such dog or dogs in his or their charge from allowing such dog or dogs to accompany such owner or other person or persons elsewhere than on the premises on which such dog or dogs is or are regularly kept. Any person violating this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than $2.00 nor more than $50.00.


(b) This section shall not apply to the running at large of any dog or dogs within the corporate limits of any city or town in this state that requires a license tag to be kept on dogs nor shall this section apply in any county in this state until the same has been adopted by the county commission of such county.

CREDIT(S)

(Acts 1915, No. 185, p. 259; Code 1923, § 3221; Code 1940, T. 3, § 5.)


 

§ 3-1-6. Liability of owner, etc., for injuries to livestock, etc., caused by dog while off premises of owner, etc.

If any dog, not being at the time on the premises of the owner or person having charge thereof, shall kill or injure any livestock, the owner or person having such dog in charge shall be liable for damages sustained by the killing or maiming of any livestock and for the full costs of the action.

CREDIT(S)

(Code 1907, § 2471; Code 1923, § 5679; Code 1940, T. 3, § 6.)

 

TITLE 3. ANIMALS. CHAPTER 6. LIABILITY OF OWNERS OF DOGS BITING OR INJURING PERSONS.

§ 3-6-1. Liability of owner of dog for injuries to person bitten or injured while upon property owned or controlled by owner, etc.

If any dog shall, without provocation, bite or injure any person who is at the time at a place where he or she has a legal right to be, the owner of such dog shall be liable in damages to the person so bitten or injured, but such liability shall arise only when the person so bitten or injured is upon property owned or controlled by the owner of such dog at the time such bite or injury occurs or when such person has been immediately prior to such time on such property and has been pursued therefrom by such dog.

CREDIT(S) 

(Acts 1953, No. 320, p. 379, § 1.)

 

§ 3-6-2. When person deemed lawfully on property of owner of dog.

For the purpose of this chapter a person shall be considered to be lawfully upon the private property of the owner of such dog when he is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or by the laws of the United States or the postal laws and regulations of the United States, when reading meters, when delivering milk, when making repairs to any public utility or service upon said premises or when on such property upon the invitation, either expressed or implied, of the owner or lessee of such property.

CREDIT(S) 

(Acts 1953, No. 320, p. 379, § 3.)

 

§ 3-6-3. Mitigation of damages.

The owner of such dog shall, however, be entitled to plead and prove in mitigation of damages that he had no knowledge of any circumstances indicating such dog to be or to have been vicious or dangerous or mischievous, and, if he does so, he shall be liable only to the extent of the actual expenses incurred by the person so bitten or injured as a result of the bite or injury.

CREDIT(S) 

(Acts 1953, No. 320, p. 379, § 2.)

 

§ 3-6-4. Construction of chapter.

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as diminishing any right or liability for injury by dog bites now existing under the laws of this state.

CREDIT(S) 

(Acts 1953, No. 320, p. 379, § 4.)

 

TITLE 3. ANIMALS. CHAPTER 7A. RABIES.

§ 3-7A-9. Quarantine of dog, cat, or ferret which bites human being; destruction and examination of animal; violations; instructions for quarantine; report of results; exemptions.

 (a) Whenever the rabies officer or the health officer receives information that a human being has been bitten or exposed by a dog, cat, or ferret required by this chapter to be immunized against rabies, the officer or his or her authorized agent shall cause the dog, cat, or ferret to be placed in quarantine under the direct supervision of a duly licensed veterinarian for rabies observation as prescribed in Section 3-7A-1. It shall be unlawful for any person having knowledge that a human being has been bitten or exposed by a dog, cat, or ferret to fail to notify one or more of the aforementioned officers. Vaccinated dogs, cats, and ferrets may be authorized to be quarantined in the home of the owner of the animal by the appropriate health officer.

(b) When a dog, cat, or ferret has no owner as determined by the rabies officer or the health officer after reasonable investigation, or if the owner of a dog, cat, or ferret agrees in writing, or if ordered by the health officer, the animal shall be humanely destroyed immediately after the exposure and the head shall be submitted for rabies examination to the state health department laboratory.

(c) The period of quarantine for animals other than domesticated dogs, cats, and ferrets which have bitten or exposed a human being shall be determined by the Alabama Department of Public Health upon consultation with the U.S. Public Health Service. If reliable epidemiologic data is lacking for an animal species regarding duration of rabies virus secretion from the salivary glands, the animals shall be humanely destroyed and the head submitted for rabies examination to the state health department laboratory.

(d) It shall be a violation of this chapter for the owner of such an animal to refuse to comply with the lawful order of the health officer in any particular case. It is unlawful for the owner to sell, give away, transfer to another location, or otherwise dispose of any animal that is known to have bitten or exposed a human being until it is released from quarantine by the rabies officer, duly licensed veterinarian, or by the appropriate health officer.

(e) Instructions for the quarantine of the offending animal shall be delivered in person or by telephone or facsimile to the owner by the health officer or his or her authorized agent. If the instructions cannot be delivered in such a manner, they shall be mailed by regular mail, postage prepaid and addressed to the owner of the animal. The affidavit or testimony of the health officer or his or her authorized agent, who delivers or mails the instructions, shall be prima facie evidence of the receipt of such instructions by the owner of the animal. Any expenses incurred in the quarantine of the offending animal under this section and Section 3-7A-8 shall be borne by the owner.

(f) The veterinarian under whose care the offending animal has been committed for quarantine shall promptly report the results of his or her observation of the animal to the attending physician of the human being bitten or exposed and the appropriate health officer.

(g) Canine corps dogs and seeing eye dogs shall be exempt from the quarantine period if the exposure occurs in the line of duty and evidence of proper immunization against rabies is presented, but shall be examined immediately at the end of 10 days by a licensed veterinarian, who shall report the results of his or her examination to the appropriate health officer as previously authorized.

CREDIT(S)

(Acts 1990, No. 90-530, p. 816, § 9; Act 2009-636, p. 1949, § 1.)

 

 

Code of Alabama. Title 3. Animals. Chapter 6A. Control of Dangerous Dogs.

Effective: June 1, 2018

Ala.Code 1975 § 3-6A-1

§ 3-6A-1. Short title.

 

This chapter is known and may be cited as Emily’s Law.

Credits

(Act 2018-182, § 1.)

 

Ala. Code 1975 § 3-6A-1, AL ST § 3-6A-1

 

§ 3-6A-2. Legislative findings.

 

The Legislature finds that certain dogs are an increasingly serious and widespread threat to the safety and welfare of citizens of this state by virtue of their unjustified attacks on and associated injury to individuals; that these attacks are in part attributable to the failure of owners to confine and properly train and control these dogs; that existing laws inadequately address this problem; and that it is therefore appropriate and necessary to impose a uniform set of state requirements on the owners of dangerous dogs.

Credits

(Act 2018-182, § 2.)

 

§ 3-6A-3. Definitions.

Currentness

 

For the purposes of this chapter, the following words shall have the following meanings:

 

(1) Animal control officer. Any person employed by a county or municipality who performs animal control functions or any person who performs animal control functions who is employed by an entity under agreement or contract with a county or municipality to perform animal control functions or to enforce this chapter.

 

(2) Attack. Aggressive physical contact by a dog.

 

(3) Bitten. Seized with the teeth so that the skin of the person seized has been gripped, or has been wounded or pierced, resulting in physical injury.

 

(4) Dangerous dog. A dog, regardless of its breed, that has bitten, attacked, or caused physical injury, serious physical injury, or death to a person without justification, except a dog that is a police animal as defined by Section 13A-11-260, used by law enforcement officials for legitimate law enforcement purposes.

 

(5) Dog. All members of the canine family including dog hybrids.

 

(6) Impounded. Taken into the custody of law enforcement, the county pound, or an animal control authority or provider of animal control services to the municipality or county where the dangerous dog is found.

 

(7) Owner. A person, firm, corporation, or organization having a right of property in a dog, or who keeps or harbors a dog, or who has a dog in his or her care or acts as the custodian of a dog, or who permits a dog to remain on or about any premises occupied by him or her.

 

(8) Physical injury. An injury as defined in Section 13A-1-2(12).

 

(9) Proper enclosure of a dangerous dog. An enclosure for the confinement of a dog that has been declared dangerous that is suitable to prevent the entry of the general public and that does all of the following:

 

a. Is capable of being locked with a key or combination lock when the dog is within the structure.

 

b. Has secure sides and a secure top attached at all sides. All four sides of the fence or pen must be sunk at least two feet into the ground or the fence or pen must be built over a concrete pad to prevent the dog from digging out.

 

c. Provides adequate ventilation and protection from the elements.

 

d. Exhibits a sign conspicuously posted upon the pen or the structure containing the following: “Dangerous Dog--No Trespassing.”

 

e. The enclosure shall be constructed to allow the dog to stand normally and without restriction and shall be not less than four times the length of the dog and two times the width of the dog.

 

f. The enclosure shall be locked at all times while the dog is inside the enclosure.

 

(10) Serious physical injury. An injury as defined in Section 13A-1-2.

Credits

(Act 2018-182, § 3.)

 

§ 3-6A-4. Sworn statement; dangerous dog investigation; hearing; procedures.

Currentness

 

 

(a)(1) When a person claims that a dog is dangerous, the person shall make a sworn statement before a city magistrate or sheriff setting forth the name of the dog owner, if known, the location where the dog is being kept in the city or county, and the reason he or she believes the dog to be dangerous.

 

(2) The sworn statement shall be delivered to an animal control officer who shall complete a dangerous dog investigation. When the sworn statement claims that a dog has caused serious physical injury or death to a person, the duties of the animal control officer, including but not limited to the dangerous dog investigation, shall be carried out by a law enforcement officer.

 

(b) An animal control officer may initiate a dangerous dog investigation in cases where a complaint has been made pursuant to subsection (a) and a person has been bitten, received physical injury or serious physical injury, or has died.

 

(c)(1) In the event a dangerous dog investigation leads an animal control officer to believe the allegation is founded, all of the following shall occur:

 

a. The animal control officer shall file a summons for the owner of the dog, if known, with the municipal court or district court.

 

b. The dog in question shall be impounded at the county pound as described in Section 3-7A-7, or the county or municipality may enter into an agreement with an animal shelter or licensed veterinarian to impound the dog; provided, however, the owner of the dog shall be provided the opportunity to choose a veterinarian of his or her choosing to impound the dog in lieu of the county pound or animal shelter. If the dog is impounded with a veterinarian chosen by the owner of the dog, the owner of the dog shall be liable for paying to the veterinarian the cost and expenses incurred in impounding, feeding, and providing veterinary care or treatment for the dog. If the county or municipality impounds the dog, the owner of the dog shall be liable to the county or municipality for the costs and expenses incurred in impounding, feeding, and providing veterinary care or treatment for the dog.

 

c. The animal control officer shall send a copy of the investigation report to the county attorney, municipal attorney, or municipal prosecutor.

 

(2) In lieu of the investigation, the owner of the alleged dangerous dog may consent to the dog being humanely euthanized.

 

(d) In the event the dangerous dog investigation leads the animal control officer to believe the allegation is unfounded, the animal control officer shall advise the complainant of his or her findings and the animal control officer shall submit the results of the investigation to his or her supervisor.

 

(e) A copy of all investigations made pursuant to this section shall be kept on file in the animal control office or sheriff's office.

 

(f) The county attorney, municipal attorney, or municipal prosecutor may file a petition in the district court or municipal court to declare dangerous the dog that caused physical injury, serious physical injury, or death to a person in the jurisdiction of the county or municipality. The owner of the dog, if known, shall be served with a copy of the petition.

 

(g) A dog that is the subject of a dangerous dog investigation may not be relocated and ownership may not be transferred pending the outcome of the investigation and hearing to determine whether to declare the dog to be dangerous.

 

(h) The court hearing shall be held as soon as practicable. At the hearing, the county attorney, municipal attorney, or municipal prosecutor shall present evidence that the dog is dangerous. To declare the dog dangerous, the court shall find by reasonable satisfaction that the dog bit, attacked, or caused physical injury, serious physical injury, or death to a person without justification.

 

(1) If the court determines that the dog is dangerous and has caused serious physical injury or death to a person, the court shall order the dog to be humanely euthanized by a licensed veterinarian or an authorized animal control official.

 

(2) If the court determines that the dog is dangerous, but has not caused serious physical injury or death to a person, the court shall determine whether the dog has a propensity to cause future serious physical injury or death. If the court determines by reasonable satisfaction that the dog has such a propensity, the court may order the dog to be humanely euthanized by a licensed veterinarian or an authorized animal control officer or the court may order the dog be returned to its owner pursuant to all of the following conditions:

 

a. The dog shall be held in impound until the owner complies with all orders of the court, but if the owner fails to comply with all orders of the court within 30 days of the court's order, the dog shall be humanely euthanized.

 

b. The dangerous dog shall be microchipped.

 

c. The owner of the dangerous dog shall provide a copy of the certificate of the current rabies vaccination of the dog.

 

d. The dangerous dog shall be spayed or neutered.

 

e. The owner of the dangerous dog shall be required to pay all expenses involved with the investigation, pickup, and impoundment, and any court costs or fees related to the hearing to determine whether the dog is dangerous.

 

f. The owner of the dangerous dog shall be required to pay an annual dangerous dog registration fee of one hundred dollars ($100) to the county or municipality for a dog deemed dangerous by a court or pay a penalty of one hundred dollars ($100) to the county or municipality for non-registration within two weeks.

 

g.1. The owner shall be required to obtain a surety bond of at least one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) and shall provide proof to the court or animal control office.

 

2. The surety bond required by subparagraph 1. shall provide coverage for dog bites, injuries, or death caused by the dog.

 

3. The owner shall provide proof of the surety bond each time the annual dangerous dog registration fee is paid.

 

h. The owner of the dangerous dog shall provide proof to the court that he or she has constructed a proper enclosure for a dangerous dog pursuant to Section 3-6A-3.

 

(i) The pleading and practice in all cases to petition the court to declare a dog to be dangerous under this section shall be in accordance with the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure and rules of the courts governing municipal courts in this state unless otherwise specified by this chapter. Any judicial determination in municipal court or district court that a dog is dangerous may be appealed to the circuit court pursuant to the requirements of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure and the order of the circuit court shall be final.

 

(j) It shall be presumed that a dog is not a dangerous dog pursuant to this chapter if the dog was on property owned by the owner of the dog when the event subject to a claim under this chapter occurred or if the victim was trespassing on any property when the event subject to a claim under this chapter occurred.

Credits

(Act 2018-182, § 4.)

 

§ 3-6A-5. Violations.

Currentness

 

 

(a) If a dog that has previously been declared by a court to be dangerous, when unjustified, attacks and causes serious physical injury or death to a person, the owner of the dog shall be guilty of a Class B felony.

 

(b) If a dog that has not been declared by a court to be dangerous, when unjustified, attacks and causes serious physical injury or death to a person, and the owner of the dog had prior knowledge of the dangerous propensities of the dog, yet demonstrated a reckless disregard of the propensities under the circumstances, the owner of the dog shall be guilty of a Class C felony.

 

(c) If a dog that has previously been declared by a court to be dangerous, when unjustified, attacks and causes physical injury to a person, the owner of the dog shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

 

(d) If a dog that has not been declared by a court to be dangerous, when unjustified, attacks and causes physical injury to a person, and the owner of the dog had prior knowledge of the dangerous propensities of the dog, yet demonstrated a reckless disregard of the propensities under the circumstances, the owner of the dog shall be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.

 

(e) In addition to any fines imposed by the court, a person guilty of violating subsection (a), (b), (c), or (d) shall pay all expenses, including, but not limited to, shelter, food, veterinary expenses for boarding, and veterinary expenses necessitated by impoundment of the dog, medical expenses incurred by a victim from an attack by a dangerous dog, and other expenses required for the destruction of the dog.

 

(f)(1) When a dog declared to be dangerous is outside and not contained in the proper enclosure of a dangerous dog pursuant to Section 3-6A-3, the owner of the dangerous dog shall be present and shall restrain the dangerous dog with a secure collar and leash.

 

(2) An owner of a dog declared to be dangerous who violates subdivision (1) shall be guilty of a Class C misdemeanor, except that a second or subsequent adjudication or conviction is a Class B misdemeanor.

 

(g) An owner of a dog that is the subject of a dangerous dog investigation who refuses to surrender the dog to an animal control officer or law enforcement officer, upon the request of the animal control officer or law enforcement officer, shall be guilty of a Class C misdemeanor.

 

(h) Any person who knowingly makes a false report to an animal control officer or law enforcement officer that a dog is dangerous is guilty of a Class C misdemeanor.

Credits

(Act 2018-182, § 5.)

 

§ 3-6A-6. Construction with other laws; penalties.

Currentness

 

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to repeal other criminal laws. Whenever conduct prescribed by this chapter is also prescribed by any other provision of law, the provision which carries the more serious penalty shall be applied.

Credits

(Act 2018-182, § 6.)

 

§ 3-6A-7. Construction and application of chapter.

Currentness

 

 

(a) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to restrict or negate the requirements of the rabies control law contained in Sections 3-7A-1 to 3-7A-15, inclusive.

 

(b) Nothing in this chapter is designed to abrogate any civil remedies available under statutory or common law.

 

(c) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to restrict the power of any county or municipality to adopt and enforce ordinances or regulations that comply with at least the minimum applicable standards set forth in this chapter.

 

(d) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to require any county or municipality to employ or make available an animal control officer.

Credits

(Act 2018-182, § 7.)

 

§ 3-6A-8. Duties of animal control officer.

Currentness

 

If the appropriate jurisdiction does not employ an animal control officer, the duties of this chapter shall be carried out by a law enforcement officer.

Credits

(Act 2018-182, § 8.)

 

 

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