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No, pit bulls are not illegal in Georgia. There is a house bill to ban them, but it has not been enacted into law. (Click here to read the house bill)
There are requirements for dangerous dogs or potentially dangerous dogs and/or viscious dogs, but these classifications come only after the dog has shown aggression by injuring another animal or human. Please see the Georgia statutes below for more information.
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§ 4-8-21. Definitions
(a) As used in this article, the term:
(1) "Dangerous dog" means any dog that, according to the records of an appropriate authority:
(A) Inflicts a severe injury on a human being without provocation on public or private property at any time after March 31, 1989; or
(B) Aggressively bites, attacks, or endangers the safety of humans without provocation after the dog has been classified as a potentially dangerous dog and after the owner has been notified of such classification.
(2) "Dog control officer" means an individual selected by a local government pursuant to the provisions of subsection (c) of Code Section 4-8-22 to aid in the administration and enforcement of the provisions of this article.
(3) "Governing authority" means the governing body or official in which the legislative powers of a local government are vested.
(4) "Local government" means any county or municipality of this state.
(5) "Owner" means any natural person or any legal entity, including, but not limited to, a corporation, partnership, firm, or trust owning, possessing, harboring, keeping, or having custody or control of a dangerous dog or potentially dangerous dog within this state.
(6) "Potentially dangerous dog" means any dog that without provocation bites a human being on public or private property at any time after March 31, 1989.
(7) "Proper enclosure" means an enclosure for keeping a dangerous dog or potentially dangerous dog while on the owner's property securely confined indoors or in a securely enclosed and locked pen, fence, or structure suitable to prevent the entry of young children and designed to prevent the dog from escaping. Any such pen or structure shall have secure sides and a secure top, and, if the dog is enclosed within a fence, all sides of the fence shall be of sufficient height and the bottom of the fence shall be constructed or secured in such a manner as to prevent the dog's escape either from over or from under the fence. Any such enclosure shall also provide protection from the elements for the dog.
(8) "Records of an appropriate authority" means records of any state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency; records of any county or municipal animal control agency; records of any county board of health; records of any federal, state, or local court; or records of a dog control officer provided for in this article.
(9) "Severe injury" means any physical injury that results in broken bones or disfiguring lacerations requiring multiple sutures or cosmetic surgery or a physical injury that results in death.
(b) A dog that inflicts an injury upon a person when the dog is being used by a law enforcement officer to carry out the law enforcement officer's official duties shall not be a dangerous dog or potentially dangerous dog within the meaning of this article. A dog shall not be a dangerous dog or a potentially dangerous dog within the meaning of this article if the injury inflicted by the dog was sustained by a person who, at the time, was committing a willful trespass or other tort or was tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the dog or had in the past been observed or reported to have tormented, abused, or assaulted the dog or was committing or attempting to commit a crime.
§ 4-8-24. Procedures for classification as dangerous dogs or potentially dangerous dogs; notice; hearing
(a) As applied to the owners of potentially dangerous dogs, the procedures provided for in this Code section must be carried out as a necessary condition for the enforcement of the provisions of this article against such owners. As applied to the owners of dangerous dogs, the procedures provided for in this Code section shall not be an essential element of any crime provided for in this article.
(b) When a dangerous dog or a potentially dangerous dog is classified as such, the dog control officer shall notify the dog's owner of such classification.
(c) The notice to the owner shall meet the following requirements:
(1) The notice shall be in writing and mailed by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery to the owner's last known address;
(2) The notice shall include a summary of the dog control officer's findings that formed the basis for the dog's classification as a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog;
(3) The notice shall be dated and shall state that the owner, within 15 days after the date shown on the notice, has a right to request a hearing on the dog control officer's determination that the dog is a dangerous dog or potentially dangerous dog;
(4) The notice shall state that the hearing, if requested, shall be before the governing authority, the board of health, or the animal control board of the respective local government and shall specify the name of the applicable agency which will conduct the hearing;
(5) The notice shall state that if a hearing is not requested, the dog control officer's determination that the dog is a dangerous dog or a potentially dangerous dog will become effective for all purposes under this article on a date specified in the notice, which shall be after the last day on which the owner has a right to request a hearing; and
(6) The notice shall include a form to request a hearing before the applicable agency and shall provide specific instructions on mailing or delivering such request to the agency.
(d) When the governing authority, animal control board, or local board of health, whichever is applicable, receives a request for a hearing as provided in subsection (c) of this Code section, it shall schedule such hearing within 30 days after receiving the request. The governing authority or board shall notify the dog owner in writing by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery of the date, time, and place of the hearing, and such notice shall be mailed to the dog owner at least ten days prior to the date of the hearing. At the hearing, the owner of the dog shall be given the opportunity to testify and present evidence and in addition thereto the governing authority or board shall receive such other evidence and hear such other testimony as the governing authority or board may find reasonably necessary to make a determination either to sustain, modify, or overrule the dog control officer's classification of the dog.
(e) Within ten days after the date of the hearing, the governing authority or board shall notify the dog owner in writing by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery of its determination on the matter. If such determination is that the dog is a dangerous dog or a potentially dangerous dog, the notice shall specify the date upon which that determination is effective.
§ 4-8-25. Requirements for possessing dangerous or potentially dangerous dog
(a) It is unlawful for an owner to have or possess within this state a dangerous dog or potentially dangerous dog without a certificate of registration issued in accordance with the provisions of this Code section.
(b) Subject to the additional requirements of subsection (c) of this Code section for dangerous dogs, the dog control officer of a local government in which an owner possesses a dangerous dog or potentially dangerous dog shall issue a certificate of registration to the owner of such dog if the owner presents to the dog control officer or the dog control officer otherwise finds sufficient evidence of:
(1) A proper enclosure to confine the dangerous dog or potentially dangerous dog; and
(2) (A) The posting of the premises where the dangerous dog or potentially dangerous dog is located with a clearly visible sign warning that there is a dangerous dog on the property.
(B) The Department of Natural Resources shall design a uniform symbol for the purpose of implementing subparagraph (A) of this paragraph no later than July 1, 1989, and shall provide copies of the design to the governing authority of each county and municipality of this state. The sign required to be posted by subparagraph (A) of this paragraph shall conform substantially to the design provided by the Department of Natural Resources pursuant to this subparagraph.
(C) The requirement of subparagraph (A) of this paragraph shall become effective 60 days following the day the uniform design specified in subparagraph (B) of this paragraph is distributed to the governing authority of each county and municipality of the state.
(c) In addition to the requirements of subsection (b) of this Code section, the owner of a dangerous dog shall present to the dog control officer evidence of:
(1) A policy of insurance in the amount of at least $15,000.00 issued by an insurer authorized to transact business in this state insuring the owner of the dangerous dog against liability for any personal injuries inflicted by the dangerous dog; or
(2) A surety bond in the amount of $15,000.00 or more issued by a surety company authorized to transact business in this state payable to any person or persons injured by the dangerous dog.
(d) The owner of a dangerous dog or potentially dangerous dog shall notify the dog control officer within 24 hours if the dog is on the loose, is unconfined, has attacked a human, has died, or has been sold or donated. If the dog has been sold or donated, the owner shall also provide the dog control officer with the name, address, and telephone number of the new owner of the dog.
(e) The owner of a dangerous dog or potentially dangerous dog shall notify the dog control officer if the owner is moving from the dog control officer's jurisdiction. The owner of a dangerous dog or potentially dangerous dog who is a new resident of the State of Georgia shall register the dog as required in this Code section within 30 days after becoming a resident. The owner of a dangerous dog or potentially dangerous dog who moves from one jurisdiction to another within the State of Georgia shall register the dangerous dog or potentially dangerous dog in the new jurisdiction within ten days after becoming a resident.
(f) Issuance of a certificate of registration or the renewal of a certificate of registration by a local government does not warrant or guarantee that the requirements specified in subsections (b) and (c) of this Code section are maintained by the owner of a dangerous dog or potentially dangerous dog on a continuous basis following the date of the issuance of the initial certificate of registration or following the date of any annual renewal of such certificate.
(g) A dog control officer is authorized to make whatever inquiry is deemed necessary to ensure compliance with the provisions of this article. Law enforcement agencies of local governments and the sheriffs of counties shall cooperate with dog control officers in enforcing the provisions of this article.
(h) A local government may charge an annual fee, in addition to regular dog-licensing fees, to register dangerous dogs and potentially dangerous dogs as required in this Code section. Certificates of registration shall be renewed on an annual basis. At the time of the annual renewal of a certificate of registration, a dog control officer shall require evidence from the owner or make such investigation as may be necessary to verify that the dangerous dog or potentially dangerous dog is continuing to be confined in a proper enclosure and that the owner is continuing to comply with other provisions of this article.
§ 4-8-43. Penalties for owners violating provisions of law on vicious dogs
(a) The owner of a vicious dog who violates Code Section 4-8-42 shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. In addition to any confinement that might be imposed for a conviction under this subsection, for the second conviction a fine of not less than $300.00 shall be imposed and for a third or subsequent conviction a fine of not less than $500.00 shall be imposed.
(b) If an owner who has a previous conviction for a violation of this article knowingly and willfully fails to comply with the provisions of this article, such owner shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of high and aggravated nature if the owner's vicious dog attacks, bites, causes severe injury, or causes the death of a human being under circumstances constituting another violation of this article.
(c) In addition to the penalties for violations under subsection (b) of this Code section, the vicious dog involved shall be immediately confiscated by the dog control officer or by a law enforcement officer or another person authorized by the dog control officer and placed in quarantine for the proper length of time as determined by the county board of health, and thereafter, the vicious dog shall be destroyed in an expeditious and humane manner.