Proving careless management or allowing the dog to go at liberty in Georgia


Under OCGA 51-2-7, scienter or violating a local ordinance are not quite enough to impose liability on a defendant. The victim also must prove that the injury resulted from careless management or by allowing the animal to go at liberty. The use of the word “and” in the following sentence of the statute compels this requirement: “A person who owns or keeps a vicious or dangerous animal of any kind and who, by careless management or by allowing the animal to go at liberty, causes injury to another person who does not provoke the injury by his own act may be liable in damages to the person so injured.”

Careless management might consist of keeping the dog tied to a tree with a chain that extends to the curb, allowing children to freely take the dog out to play without a leash, entrusting the dog to an incompetent caretaker like a 5-year-old, or anything else that would be negligent or irresponsible. Allowing the dog to go at liberty would include letting it out without a leash, leaving an outer door open so that the dog could run out if it chose, or having a policy that the children could take the dog out without a leash.