Fulton County updates laws on vicious, dangerous dogs

Fulton County officials hope it will be easier to prosecute owners of dangerous and vicious dogs now that they have updated their rabies and animal control ordinances to better align with state law.

The County Board approved the changes last week. They apply to all of Fulton, including the city of Atlanta.

To be consistent with Georgia’s Responsible Dog Ownership Law of 2012, the county eliminated the classification “potentially dangerous dog” and updated definitions of “dangerous” and “vicious” dogs to better identify aggressive animals that attack and cause injury.

The changes introduce the definition of a “public nuisance animal” as something other than “vicious” but guilty of other behaviors, such as roaming at large (except cats), chasing people or attacking and biting without provocation.

Human owners who repeatedly fail to obey the law face misdemeanor charges and fines, for a third conviction, of “not less than” $500 for public nuisance animals and $750 for dangerous dogs.

Definitions of animal cruelty and neglect also are clarified, and references to the Atlanta Humane Society are deleted, as it no longer manages animal services for the county.