Emily’s Law, a bill passed in this year’s legislative session came into effect on July 1, boosting penalties for dangerous dogs, and dog owners.
Emily Colvin, a 24 year-old was attacked and killed by a pack of five dogs in Northeast Alabama in December of 2017, prompting legislators to take action to prevent the same kind of tragedy.
Senate Bill 232, sponsored by Scottsboro-Republican Sen. Steve Livingston, was successfully passed in March and makes those who own dangerous dogs responsible for their animal’s actions.
Under the new law, dog owners whose animal kills someone can be charged with a class B felony which is punishable by two to 20 years in jail and up to $30,000 in fines. The new law also requires reports and investigations from the police every time a dog bites someone.
“We have had two people killed by dogs in North Alabama in the last few months. We have had people killed by dogs in this state. This is not a laughing matter,” said Rainsville-Republican Rep. Nathanial Ledbetter, according to Alabama Political Reporter.
Importantly; dangerous dogs are not defined based on breed or type, but rather by weather or not the dog has bitten, attacked, caused physical injury, or death to a person without justification.
If a dog has attacked a person, and the investigation of the attack leads to the conclusion that the dog is dangerous, the pet is then impounded at a local animal shelter, or, if the owner sees fit, impounded at the veterinarian office of their choice for the duration of the court case. Owners will then be summoned to municipal court to face a judges decision on the dog.
If the dog has caused physical harm then a judge can declare a dog dangerous, and it can be euthanized. If the dog is deemed dangerous, but has not caused any physical damage the dog can be euthanized or returned to the owner under strict conditions.
Under the law, dog owners whose animal attacks someone who is trespassing on their property will not be prosecuted, and the dogs cannot be claimed dangerous.