Alabama Emily’s Law becomes effective on June 1, 2018

On March 8, 2018, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed Emily’s Law. This new law, which takes effect on June 1, provides a way to humanely euthanize a dangerous dog that has killed or seriously injured someone, provided the dog kills or injures without justification.

The law is named after 24-year-old Emily Colvin, who died in early December 2018 after being attacked by a pack of dogs in the front yard of her Jackson County home.

Dogs that have injured someone, but not seriously, may be returned to their owners, provided certain requirements are met.

Law sets out procedure for dangerous-dog investigation

Emily’s Law sets out the procedure for animal control officers or other law enforcement officers to conduct a dangerous-dog investigation. If the investigation causes the animal control officer or law enforcement officer to conclude that the dog is dangerous, a trial is held before a municipal court or a district court to determine whether the dog is indeed dangerous.

What happens if the dog is found to be dangerous?

If the court finds the dog has killed or seriously injured someone, the dog will be humanely euthanized. A serious injury is one that causes—

  1. A substantial risk of death.
  2. Serious and protracted disfigurement.
  3. Protracted impairment of health.
  4. Protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.

If the courts find the dog has not caused serious injury or death, the court must then determine whether the dog has a propensity to cause future serious physical injury or death. If the court finds that the dog has such a propensity, the court then has two options:

  1. Humane euthanasia.
  2. Returning the dog to its owner, provided a number of requirements are met.

During the trial, the court is to presume that a dog is not dangerous if either of the following is true:

  1. The dog was on the owner’s property when the attack occurred.
  2. The person attacked was trespassing on any property where the attack occurred.

Requirements for keeping a dangerous dog

Here are some of the requirements if the dangerous dog is returned to its owner:

  • The dog must be spayed or neutered.
  • The dog must be microchipped.
  • The dog must be kept in a locked pen that not only has four sides, but a top and a concrete bottom (or fencing that extends at least 2 feet into the ground).
  • The owner must pay an annual $100 dangerous-dog registration fee.
  • The owner must secure a $100,000 surety bond that provides coverage for dog bites, injuries, or death caused by the dog.

New crimes

The new law also defines several new crimes related to owning a dangerous dog. It’s a Class B felony if—

  1. The dog has been previously declared dangerous.
  2. The dog attacks a person without justification.
  3. The dog seriously injures or kills the person attacked.

It’s a Class C felony if—

  1. The dog has been previously declared dangerous.
  2. The dog attacks a person without justification.
  3. The dog seriously injures or kills the person attacked.
  4. The owner knows the dangerous propensities of the dog and recklessly disregards those propensities.

It’s a Class A misdemeanor if—

  1. The dog has been previously declared dangerous.
  2. The dog attacks a person without justification.
  3. The dog injures (but not seriously) the person attacked.

It’s a Class B misdemeanor if—

  1. The dog has been previously declared dangerous.
  2. The dog attacks a person without justification.
  3. The dog injures (but not seriously) the person attacked.
  4. The owner knows the dangerous propensities of the dog and recklessly disregards those propensities.

It’s a Class A misdemeanor if the owner of a dangerous dog fails to restrain a dangerous dog with a secure collar and leash. But if the owner is found guilty of that same crime a second time, it’s a Class B misdemeanor.

It’s a Class C misdemeanor if the owner refuses to surrender a dog to an animal control officer or law enforcement officer when the dog is subject to a dangerous-dog investigation.

It’s a Class C misdemeanor to knowingly make a false report that a dog is dangerous.

Punishments for various crimes

Type of Crime Punishment
Class B felony
  • Prison sentence of not more than 20 years or less than 2 years.
  • Fine of not more than $30,000.
Class C felony
  • Prison sentence of not more than 10 years or less than 1 year and 1 day.
  • Fine of not more than $15,000.
Class A misdemeanor
  • Jail sentence of not more than 1 year.
  • Fine of not more than $6,000.
Class B misdemeanor
  • Jail sentence of not more than 6 months.
  • Fine of not more than $3,000.
Class C misdemeanor
  • Jail sentence of not more than 3 months.
  • Fine of not more than $500.

Read or download a copy of the new law.

© 2018

Published March 09, 2018 Posted in News About the Law
Items on this web page are general in nature. They cannot—and should not—replace consultation with a competent legal professional. Nothing on this web page should be considered rendering legal advice.

Search News

CONTACT

  • 256-535-1100
  • 256-533-9322
  • Send Email