Residents Say They Are Being Forced To Pay Insurance On Their Family Pet

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Jasper, GA – Pickens County residents Kenny and Sharon Prather claim that they are being forced by Pickens County to pay insurance on their family dog, Annabelle.

Annabelle was adopted by the couple from the Pickens County Animal shelter back in May of 2015. The Prathers say she received a nearly perfect score, before her adoption, from a local certified dog trainer and Canine Good Citizen Evaluator who volunteers her time to evaluate Pickens County Animal Shelter dogs for adoptability traits.

In July 2016, a Pickens County resident reported a dog bite in the same neighborhood where Annabelle had lived with her family for 14 months without incident.

It was said by the Prathers that the person who was bitten described the offending dog as a grey pitbull and Annabelle was assumed to be the culprit by Pickens Animal Control, although she is a brindle bully mix.

The family says they are being forced by Pickens County authorities to euthanize Annabelle or to purchase additional liability insurance on their homeowner’s policy for the dog. This policy was purchased by the Prathers for $1,000 annually.

They also state that Annabelle is required, by Pickens County authorities, to wear a muzzle whenever in public.

In the 2012 Legislative Session  Governor Nathan Deal approved House Bill 685, with its Responsible Dog Ownership Law, to hold owners more deeply accountable for their dangerous or vicious dogs.

As of July 1, 2012 owners responsible for dangerous dogs — those dogs that puncture a person’s skin with a bite but do not cause serious injury, or those dogs that kill another owner’s pet — must now:

  • Apply for a certificate of registration for the dog every year
  • Build a secure enclosure to house the dog
  • Post warning signs at all entrances to indicate that a dangerous dog lives on the property

If a dog inflicts serious injury on a person, a dog control officer will classify that dog as vicious, and owners of vicious dogs must also:

  • Microchip the pet
  • Maintain at least $50,000 of liability insurance to cover costs in the event that the dog attacks or damages another’s property a second time

Any vicious dog responsible for a second offense will be euthanized, and owners who violate registration requirements may be fined and imprisoned for infractions.

 

County Commission Chairman Robert Jones stated,

The county has no control over this, it is a state law. If time has passed and the owners want their animal removed from the vicious list they would have to go through the state and have their animal re-evaluated by Public Health Officials.

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