Montgomery, Ala. – Governor Kay Ivey signed Senator Steve Livingston’s (R-Scottsboro) Senate Bill 232 into law last week. The legislation holds pet owners criminally liable if their dog attacks, maims, or kills someone.
The legislation, “Emily’s Law,” is named for Emily Colvin, a 24-year-old woman who was killed by a pack of dogs at her home in Jackson County.
Dangerous dogs have become a significant problem in north Alabama, and have resulted in at least two deaths (including Emily’s) over the past year, according to Senator Livingston.
“For too long, no one has been held responsible for the actions of their animals and we have had Alabamians that have been severely injured or killed,” Livingston said. “I want to thank Representatives Ledbetter and Hanes for carrying this bill in the House and Governor Ivey for signing the legislation and encouraging our citizens to practice responsible pet ownership”
A dangerous dog is defined as a dog, regardless of breed, that has killed, maimed, or attacked someone without provocation. The newly minted law makes it a class B felony if someone is killed by an owner’s dog, if it has been previously declared dangerous. Courts are also given the authority to order the animal to be humanely euthanized.
“No family should have to suffer the pain and loss that Emily Colvin’s family has felt,” Representative Tommy Hanes (R-Scottsboro) said, who helped shepherd the bill through the House of Representatives. “Most dog owners are responsible people, but we should throw the book at lazy and irresponsible dog owners who knowingly allow aggressive and dangerous dogs to roam about endangering people.”
If a court establishes that a dog is dangerous, but hasn’t caused serious physical injury or death, the owner could be allowed to keep the dog. The owner must register the animal annually with animal control or the county health department, have the dog spayed or neutered, have the animal permanently identified with a microchip or tattoo, and obtain a $100,000 bond protecting against injuries by the dog.
Senator Steve Livingston represents District 8 in the Alabama State Senate, which is comprised of all or parts of Madison, Jackson, and DeKalb counties.