Dog attacks closer to becoming a felony in Georgia

A proposal that would make it a felony when a dog severely injures or kills someone in an attack is a step closer to becoming law in Georgia.

House Bill 717, which includes penalties of up to three years in prison or a fine of up to $20,000, passed out of subcommittee with limited discussion Wednesday. It now heads to the full House Judiciary Committee for additional review.

The felony would apply only to owners of vicious dogs, which under current law means the animal has bitten at least once before or the owner is aware the animal is a threat. Another proposal, House Bill 685, proposes changing that definition to include dogs that also have menaced or threatened people, without proving owner awareness.

That proposal, which was also scheduled to be heard Wednesday, was postponed for subcommittee review Thursday.